Local woman set to perform in New York musical about Aretha Franklin

A native of Gray performs in a New York-based musical centered on the life of singing superstar Aretha Franklin which is touring the United States

Meghan Dawson, 26, will be one of three hosts, singing and narrating “RESPECT”. She will be among the backing vocals for some tracks and will sing for the songs “Rock Steady” and “You’re All I Need to Get By”. .”

The tour has so far scheduled 44 stops across the United States from October 6 to March 30. Two of the venues will be nearby: October 21 at the Lafon Arts Center in Luling and November 11 at the River Center in Baton Rouge. Tickets are available now at respectontour.com/home/#dates-tickets.

As a child, Dawson said she enjoyed performing scenes from Disney’s teen sitcom “That’s So Raven”. She attended Louisiana State University from 2014 to 2017, where she took an opera class.

Dawson realized musicals were her calling in the spring of 2017, when she was accepted into the Springboard program, a two-week crash course in all things theater run by the American Theater Wing in New York City. In the end, she had made her decision.

“Literally at the airport on the drive home from Springboard,” Dawson said.

She began sending two-minute videos of her performances to cruise lines that accepted online applications.

“And within a week or so,” Dawson said, “Celebrity Cruises contacted me.”

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Celebrity Cruises sent her a few songs and told her to pick two she liked and record them with a dance combo. She was successful, and a week after the call, she landed the role of Catherine Parr in the cruise line production of “Six the Musical,” which focused on the life and wives of Henry VIII.

She moved to New York in 2018. It wasn’t a permanent residence; she walks back and forth from Gray to where she lands a contract to perform.

“At the end of the day, it’s just whether you kiss a character or sing a song by a famous artist, you just play dress up and you’re able to play and that’s honestly the best thing about it. “, says Dawson. “It doesn’t feel like work at all because, I mean, I love what I do.”

Dawson said college made her unhappy and the Springboard program showed her another path to musicals. She was taking music lessons at LSU, but they focused on opera. She also had other remedial classes, so even though it was her third year, she said she had at least one more semester to graduate.

“And I just had to sit down with myself and say, ‘Am I going to keep being miserable? “Dawson said. “Where do I go to get, you know, what I want?

For some, college is the place to go to experience the world and gain independence. Dawson found it by going out and performing in front of a crowd. She heard the siren call in New York and continues to return there for gigs.

“Just having that first contract made me grow a lot as a performer and knowing that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “I might do Atlanta or LA, but when it comes to what I want to do, New York is, like, the only place to be.”

The cruise gig taught her a lot about musical endurance and about herself. Dawson said she hated opera class, not because of the teacher, but because she didn’t like the sound of her own voice. In the opera class, she had to listen to her voice and criticize it.

In contrast, on cruises she learned by playing, which taught her more about using her voice than she could have learned in a classroom.

“In college, I really didn’t do that because I spent so much time criticizing him and trying to fit him into this box opera,” Dawson said. “I was on the boat for months. It was just me and my voice, and, you know, you do these high-intensity, cardio cruise shows and your voice comes through a lot and you have cheap booze that you’re drinking and partying and learning to perform through it all.”

Meghan credits her mother, Holly Dawson, for her drive. She said her mother always supported her and believed in her, which gave her the confidence to pursue her passion. Holly Dawson will be at both of her daughter’s performances in the area and is also in the process of securing tickets for her opening show in New York.

When asked if she was proud of her daughter’s achievement, Holly replied “of course”. She has already purchased 20 tickets for her family members to attend Luling’s performance.

“She has a great voice and she has an amazing stage presence,” said Holly Dawson. “Almost as much as hearing him sing, it’s just as much a joy to see his presence on stage because his facial expressions say it all.”