Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Winslow’s Shannon Thurston, a graduate of Messalonskee High School, and now, at 27, the social media correspondent for the Waterville Opera House, is one of our area’s rising stars. Thurston was onstage performing when someone saw her in “Monty Python’s SPAMALOT,” and brought her to the attention of the online award show broadwayworld.com. Thurston was then nominated by the site for Best Actress in a Musical and for Best Local Debut. After a vote was taken, She won the Best Local Debut and came in second for Best Actress in a Musical. Today, before central Maine loses her forever to Broadway and beyond, we had a sit down talk.

Q: It looks like you are on a strong career track. At which point in your life did you catch the theater bug?

A: I don’t remember a time where the bug wasn’t under my skin. I think I may have been born with it, and even mom said ever since I was a baby I was always kicking my feet to music and making sounds. However, in first grade, Mom enrolled me in my first dance class and started piano lessons, and she said she had never seen me happier.

Q: That’s always a good and sure sign of passion. Where and when did you first appear on stage? How old were you?

A: I was six, and it was my first tap/jazz and ballet rehearsal. I remember looking out and thinking how massive it looked, and how the lights made the audience look like shadows. It was such a warm, beautiful feeling. Every one has a person that triggered the choice.

Q: Which person, living or dead, in theatre do you most admire?

A: I’ve always admired women who have pulled themselves to the top of their field, while breaking social norms. I’m a huge activist about body image and what is acceptable and what is not. Women like Dawn French and Miranda Hart are two women I admire as comedians who have forced the world to see talent before looks.

Q: What do you love most about acting/singing?

A: I think it’s that moment when I’m on stage, and there is an audience out there. They may judge me, and I accept that as well. It is that beautiful moment when you are instantly, basically and deeply rooted to the people in the room. That’s why I love performing.

Q: What other talent would you most like to have?

A: I’ve always wanted to be a human calculator. Oh, and I just want to hit a baseball with a bat just once. Just once.

Q: Where do you want to be five years from now?

A: Hopefully doing what I love, whether that be writing, directing, singing, acting, opening up my own animal rescue, traveling. Truthfully, I don’t make five year plans because tomorrow isn’t even promised. I’d like to get my masters and to be doing what I love.

Q: As you prepare for an entirely different life, and you could change one thing about yourself or your life, what would that be?

A: Nothing. I have what I have and anything I get I’ll work for. Unless it’s money, than yes, I’d like more money for my mum so she can be comfortable in a warm house with healthy knees.

Q: How does your family feel about your life choices regarding this career?

A: I have been so lucky to have a family that no matter what the reply is, do what you love, even if that means being so poor you sleep on the A train, because you want to be in the city auditioning, or living at home with my mom working as a waitress. They would love me no matter what and vice versa.

Q: What is your greatest extravagance?

A: Pretzel rolls and Shamrock Shakes.

Q: What do you consider, even at this early point in your young life, to be your greatest achievement, one that would factor into a life in entertainment?

A: I wrote a one act that was performed Off-Broadway with a festival for two weekends. My cast and myself were nominated for awards. It felt really great to walk into a theater in New York City with my picture up.

Q: Who are your favorite entertainers, your role models?

A: Julie Andrews is just one of my favorites of all times. Lucille Ball, Dawn French, Miranda Hart, Sarah Remierz. There are probably a TON more.

Q: How does your personal faith factor into your life at this point?

A: I have faith that the universe knows what it is doing. I’m a Reiki Master so I believe fully in the power of healing, and our united energy and our connection to the planet. I believe that laughter is the best medicine.

Q: Where would you most like to be now, living and working?

A: Well, I’m happy here now in Waterville at the Opera House, but in September I would like to be in Scotland, studying for my masters, or in a fancy hotel room writing some Oscar-winning script that allows me to go on the red carpet in some fabulous dress. Love of family, a strong faith, a positive outlook and determination. That and a fabulous dress. What more can a girl need?

We wish Shannon Thurston all the very best.

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