Tori Gresham as an ensemble character in Village Theatre’s production of “Matilda” in 2019. (Tracy Martin / Village Theatre)

Tori Gresham as an ensemble character in Village Theatre’s production of “Matilda” in 2019. (Tracy Martin / Village Theatre)

Actress tries to stay positive as virus keeps her off stage

After a Village Theatre show she was cast in is canceled, Tori Gresham fills her time with cross-stitch and embroidery.

Actress Tori Gresham mourns for Village Theatre’s 40th anniversary season, which was cut short by the coronavirus.

Three musicals from Village Theatre’s 2019-2020 season had to be canceled because of the pandemic. This includes all performances of “Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter” and “The Wedding Singer,” as well as the last two weeks of “She Loves Me.”

Gresham, 25, of Seattle, was selected for the ensemble in “The Wedding Singer,” but then COVID-19 hit. The musical based on the film of the same name had been scheduled to run June 26 through July 26 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

But just a week before rehearsals were to start, all 75 or so shows were canceled, as Washington stayed shut down to slow the spread of the virus.

“We hadn’t even come together as a cast, which was really a bummer,” Gresham said. “We had been sent our contact list and our cast list, so we knew who was in it, but we never even got to that first day (of rehearsals). It was very, very sad, for sure.”

Gresham, who also has performed with The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, said she feels fortunate that the show was canceled before rehearsals, and not right before it was scheduled to open or in the middle of its run, as was the case with “Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter” and “She Loves Me.”

“That is a much harder pill to swallow, because you’ve already immersed yourself in the world,” she said. “So I do feel grateful we weren’t already so far into it as actors, but it was really bittersweet to be one week from it.”

“The Wedding Singer” is based on the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler as a wedding singer in the 1980s and Drew Barrymore as a waitress with whom he falls in love. A romantic comedy, Village Theatre’s production was billed as a “retro gem,” “feel-good party” and a “totally radical” celebration of the ‘80s that would have you dancing in your seat.

Gresham, who holds a bachelor’s degree in musical theater from Texas State University, has been in several Village Theatre productions.

She played Amber in “Hairspray” in 2018, and was in the ensembles for 2019’s “Matilda” and 2020’s “Guys & Dolls.” She also served as the understudy for Sarah in “Guys & Dolls” and Mrs. Wormwood in “Matilda.”

Casting director Jessica Spencer said what she loves about Gresham is the performer’s unique ability to adapt between styles as a dancer, actor and singer.

“When I think about her Amber in “Hairspray,” her kid portrayal in “Matilda,” and what I saw at “The Wedding Singer” auditions, all I come back to is — there’s no one quite like Tori; I can’t draw parallels. To be unique in this industry is a great skill, but it’s all a huge testament to her heart and soul.”

Gresham said “The Wedding Singer” cancellation hit hard, but what hit even harder was that two other shows she was cast in also were called off. Acting and singing in theater is her only source of income, so Gresham has had to rely on unemployment checks during the shutdown.

“When ‘Wedding Singer’ was canceled, I was hopeful about the other two — but then, like dominos, they fell,” she said.

Without stage performance, Gresham has tapped into her creativity in other ways. She’s been doing cross-stitch and embroidery to benefit the Black Lives Matter movement. She signs up for online dance classes with her theater friends whenever they’re available. She also found a new hobby in brush lettering, although she admits she needs more practice.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Gresham said. “I try to keep myself motivated and excited about the future, but there’s nothing really to be excited about. We’re on day — I don’t even remember now — 90 something? Quarantine is hard.”

Washington is on Day 108 of the shutdown.

Talk to us

More in Life

Homemade pot stickers are filled with seasoned ground pork and served with a garlicky dipping sauce. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Make these pork pot stickers with soy-garlic dipping sauce

These dumplings are a toothsome marriage of crispy (on the outside) and tender (on the inside).

Piselli (braised peas in tomato) from "Frugal Mediterranean Cooking" by Melanie Lionello (Page Street Publishing Co., 2020).

(Courtesy of Melanie Lionello)
Frozen peas, canned tomatoes a healthy, penny-pinching dish

An Italian grandmother’s recipe for piselli — braised peas in tomato sauce — costs 91 cents per serving.

John and Rebecca Roberts have been trail angels for the Pacific Northwest Trail since 2012.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Whidbey wandering on the rugged Pacific Northwest Trail

The trail snakes down the island on its often-confounding route from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Trapped in her room by a tricky doorknob, a sixth-grade girl relies on her brother to hear her cries for help. (Jennifer Bardsley)
A family comes together to solve a middle-of-the-night crisis

She was grateful that her son had heard his sister’s call for help. His late-night hours had proven useful.

Rue Cler’s stores make picnic-shopping fun in Paris.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Fine living at a Paris street market

Parisians shop almost daily because their tiny kitchens have tiny refrigerators, and fresh produce makes for a good meal.

Hope for a brighter future starts with the COVID-19 vaccine

The end of the pandemic is in sight. But this is the time to double-down on protecting ourselves and others.

(Getty Images)
You voted: The best bakery in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

How to unlock an Airbnb account locked because of COVID-19

When Paul Drews tells Airbnb that he has COVID-19, it locks his account. Now the company won’t unlock it. Is there a way to get his account back?

Our readers have voted on a few of their favorite things in Snohomish County. (Getty Images)
The best in Snohomish County, chosen by you

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

Most Read