She was only 19 at the time, but Danielle Wade describes winning CBC’s “Over the Rainbow” as a totally different period in her life. “CBC feels like forever ago,” she says. “I mean, it was only two years, but it was a long, it was a long time ago – and it was amazing. It was hectic and scary and wonderful, all at the same time.”
It was almost an accident of how Wade got on the show. From LaSalle, near Windsor, Wade was figuring out what to do with her life when her mom called her up and asked if she wanted to drive down to Toronto to audition for the show, which included judges Andrew Lloyd Webber (a person Wade calls “a genius”), Louise Pitre and Arlene Phillips. “It was an opportunity that you don’t get a lot in life,” says Wade.
Now, the 22-year-old has wrapped up touring with “Wizard of Oz” and is set to embark on a new adventure: playing the lead role in Ross Petty’s “Cinderella”. Although she has hundreds of performances under her belt, Wade laughs and says, “I’m just as nervous for this one. I think I’ll probably be as nervous every time, but this show is a little free, more free.”
She’s at an enviable point in her career but for Wade, everything still has a touch of the surreal to it. “I would have just graduated university the past June,” she says, trying to imagine where she’d be without the exposure from “Over the Rainbow”. “So, I would have probably just been starting trying to find an agent. I probably still would have been living in Windsor trying to do all of that, because I wouldn’t have had money; I would have been a student. I worked at Tim Horton’s, so I probably would still be working there.”
Luckily, Wade doesn’t have to worry about trying to cross that huge gap of breaking in to the industry, but early success has come at a cost: she’s had to sacrifice a great deal of family time, including holidays, which she misses the most. “I think you kind of treat each show like your family,” she says. “ When you’re with those people, they become your family and you spend your time with them and you invest in their relationships, rather than dwelling on the fact that you aren’t home for the holidays…you’d have to be involved in that stuff otherwise you’d go crazy.”
As tough as it is, though, Wade wouldn’t trade it for the world and is over the moon at the directions her career is going in, although she’s cautious to read too much into the future. She acknowledges how fickle a mistress musical theatre is, but as long as she retains a strong sense of humility and her winsome girl-next-door personality, it’ll be hard to think that you won’t continue to see Wade on stages for the next little while.
“Cinderella” begins November 27 at the Elgin Theatre and runs through January 4, 2015. For more information and tickets, click here or visit Danielle Wade on Facebook or Twitter.