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Mar 17, 2015

Sasha Allen finds her ‘Voice’ in live theater

March 17, 2015

CINDY LANDRUM March 12, 2015

Talk about pressure.

When Sasha Allen takes on the role of Leading Player in the national touring production of “Pippin,” she’s got some pretty big shoes to fill.

Ben Vereen won a 1973 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Leading Player in the original “Pippin,” even though he didn’t have the title role.

Petina Miller, a South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities graduate, won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical when she played the role in the musical’s Broadway revival 40 years later.

Now, it’s Allen’s turn.

Wait – pressure? Nah, not when compared to the pressure that comes when performing live on a national television show with millions of viewers. Allen was a Top 5 competitor on season four of “The Voice,” NBC’s reality television show where four big-name musicians choose a dozen singers based solely on their voices and then mentor them as they compete weekly until there’s one winner standing.

Allen, who has sung backup vocals for Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Usher, had been on Broadway before as Dionne in “Hair,” reprising the same role she had played in London. She had co-starred in the independent cult feature, “Camp.”

“‘The Voice’ was the best school I possibly could have had,” Allen said during a telephone interview. “It helped me find myself and do it under pressure. The pressure of performing live on TV is out of control. There are 30 million people watching. It required more of me than just singing a song. ‘The Voice’ helped me find me.”

“Pippin” tells the story of a young prince on his journey for meaning and significance. It’s no stretch to call “The Voice” Allen’s personal Pippin-esque journey.

“It’s something we all go through. When we’re young, 18, 22, we all felt we knew what we were doing, but we didn’t,” Allen said. “Pippin is asking for help in discovering who he is and what he wants in life. Of course, he’s asking the wrong person, but he’s asking for help. It’s about how far we would go to be extraordinary.”

Allen said the circus remake of “Pippin” has been challenging. She and the other cast members have to do trapeze and other circus acts. The show requires multi-style dancing, something Allen had never done before.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been,” she said. “It’s not an easy role, but it’s definitely a fulfilling one. In this show, I’ve been able to push myself – really, really push myself.”

Allen said she didn’t realize just how much she’d learn on “The Voice.”

“I learned so much. I learned a lot about myself,” she said. “I learned how hard I’m willing to work.”

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