Catching up with Jeanne O'Connell
As a musical theatre performer, you have to sing and act as well as dance. How old were you when you started training in those disciplines?
My mother owned 4 dance studios so my two older sisters and I danced all the time. We took some voice lessons at a young age. I was 6-8 years old. I took voice off and on until I was 16 and then realized I had better improve my vocal skills if I wanted to work professionally. I encourage every aspiring performer to study voice and acting along with dance.
Were you involved in high school musicals?
I only performed in one high school musical and two community theatre shows while growing up. Being so busy at dance, it was difficult to find the time for shows. Again, I would recommend aspiring performers to get involved in theatre and learn as much as you can about your craft.
What was the first professional gig you landed?
I moved from Ohio to Los Angeles right after high school to pursue a professional career. Almost one year to the day, I booked my first professional job which was a chorus member of the Los Angeles/National Touring Company of 42nd Street. Coincidentally, my sister also got cast so we had a lot of fun working together.
Who was the most influential person in your career?
The most influential person in my career is probably my mom. Along with teaching me to dance, she supported my passion, trained me to be a good dance teacher, and taught me about the business of dance.
What is one piece of advice you can give a young student who has big dreams for Broadway?
It's difficult to find just one piece of advice to give up and coming performers. Let me say three quick things for any career. One, learn as much as you can about it. Two, stay focused on your ultimate goal. Three, if it's the thing that lights your fire and gets you out of bed in the morning, then that is the career you should pursue.
Tell us one fun fact about yourself.
I would like to hope I have many fun facts about me, but one thing many people find interesting is that I was a magician's assistant. I was cut in half and disappeared but I will never give away the secret.
As a teacher, choreographer, and performer Jeanne O'Connell has worked in all areas of entertainment and has over 30 years of experience. She has performed in Broadway shows, national touring companies, television shows, and Disneyland. Dancers Ms. O'Connell has trained have gone on to dance professionally in shows from Broadway to Ballet companies to cruise ships and beyond. She has choreographed for professional theatres, television shows, dance companies, and more.
Dancing since a young child at her mother's dance studio, she moved to Los Angeles at age 18 to begin her professional career. Training with teachers from Los Angeles and New York City prepared her for the vigorous career ahead. Ms. O’Connell performed in the Broadway and National Touring Companies of 42nd Street, and other AEA productions such as Singing in the Rain, Sweet Charity, Joseph, Music Man, and Me and My Girl. She has also been seen in a variety of shows at Disneyland as a featured performer on the Videopolis Stage. Along the way, Jeanne worked as a magician’s assistant for Mark and Greg Wilson, appeared on various television shows with guest dance spots, and has appeared in national commercials.
Jeanne's choreography/directing credits include a number of shows for professional equity theatre, community theatre, and high school. Television shows such as General Hospital and Saved by the Bell, videos for production companies including Wishheart Productions and Luminate Productions, and dance companies such as Mid Columbia Regional Ballet and The Julie O’Connell Dancers.
Throughout her career, Jeanne has been an owner/director of several studios and has taught dancers of all ages. Her teaching always has an underlying theme of proper technique and placement, with an encouraging and nurturing approach that provides a positive and safe environment for her students. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious which brings an element of fun and freshness to class. Most importantly, her commitment to each student helps to bring out the best in each person.