Spotlight on FROG & TOAD Choreographer, Emily Shackelford

Jason Blitman

Get to know Emily…

Emily Shackelford is a professional actor, teaching artist and San Diego Junior Theatre alum who spent 10 years with JT growing up. After earning her B.F.A. in Theatre from Stephen’s College, Emily went on to perform with many theatre companies in the Midwest, East Coast and New York, including the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, DC Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Syracuse Stage and Off-Broadway at The New Victory Theatre. As a teaching artist she has worked with The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Musical Theatre Heritage, KC Starlight Theatre, The Coterie Theatre and, of course, SDJT.

While a student at Junior Theatre, Emily appeared in a whopping 24 productions, including Annie, Peter Pan, Charlotte’s Web, SchoolHouse Rock Live, Once On This Island, Cinderella, Footloose, The Sound of Music, 42nd Street, Seussical, Beauty And The Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, Our Town and The Wiz. When asked about her favorite show, she says, “It’s hard to choose, but I remember especially loving Really Rosie and Zombie Prom.”

On the education side, she remembers loving the workshop classes, many of which were taught by Artistic Director, Desha Crownover. “Each course would focus on a musical or play, and we would put it on its feet by the end of the multi-week session. I was introduced to many amazing shows this way – A Little Night Music, Newsies – before it was the Broadway musical, 42nd Street, Pirates of Penzance, and more.”

Regarding her time at Junior Theatre, and how it impacted Emily as an adult, she says that it gave her confidence and drive. “It taught me lifelong lessons not only about the craft of theatre performance that I carry with me into my professional career, but more essentially, the importance of showing up for one another.”

Emily is excited to now work with Desha, as the choreographer on A Year with Frog and Toad. “I used to choreograph more often in my youth. Throughout that time I had the privilege of working with truly incredible and renowned choreographers, such as Sam Pinkleton, Darrell Moultrie, Lorin Latarro, Richard J. Hinds, Jeff Calhoun, Erika Chong Shuch and Jerry-Jay Cranford, and I hope to incorporate what I have gleaned from my experiences with them. They each were so inspiring to me, with distinct styles and skills for storytelling.”

And Emily is a big fan of this musical! She had the pleasure of performing in a production of Frog & Toad at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri a few years ago. Emily played one of the Birds, as well as a Mole, a Squirrel, a Mouse, and the Large and Terrible Frog.

When asked about her goals working on Frog and Toad, Emily shares that she wants to give back to the kids at Junior Theatre today, the joy that she experienced when she was here as a kid. “It was a safe space to learn, feel challenged and develop friendships and community.”

And asked about her experience so far, she enthusiastically responded, “I am so impressed with this cast! These kids are energetic, sharp, hardworking and full of ideas! Which is the best thing for an actor to have.”

Junior Theatre is so excited to have Emily back with us for Frog and Toad’s adventures! Come see her innovative choreography in the show, which opens October 29 and runs until November 14. Tickets on sale now!

Photos below: Emily in Junior Theatre productions of Really RosieOur Town and Annie.

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