‘Chicago’ veteran talks learning, life & ‘all that jazz’

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent 

Terra McLeod stars as Velma Kelly in the national touring production of "Chicago" which will be performed this May 12-14 at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), 123 Vivian St., Durham. / Paul Kolnik

“There’s always something to rediscover, to redefine, to strengthen.”
That’s the attitude Terra McLeod has when it comes to performing on Broadway. The accomplished actress has made appearances on both the stage and screen but is most well known for her role as femme fatale Velma Kelly in the legendary musical Chicago. She’s been performing the role in companies all over the world for 12 years. McLeod’s journey began in her home country of Canada, shortly after the release of the film Chicago.
“There was a lot of international interest in the show, so producers around the world wanted to buy the rights for Chicago. Montreal was one of them, and they wanted to be the first French company,” she explained.
Unable to make the original audition due to filming, McLeod thought she’d missed her chance. But a month later, the producers asked her to come in after seeing her audition reel.
“I was there in front of the whole New York team and the Montreal producers. At this point, they had really narrowed it down to a few women,” McLeod recalled. She was cast in the role a day later. “It was a dream come true, because I knew my life was about to change. I knew I was embarking on another level of creativity that I had worked so hard for.”
Work ethic played a part from the genesis of her career — it was a quality instilled by her parents.k
“If you had a passion and you had a dream, it was always, ‘work hard, and follow your passion, and keep working hard’,” McLeod said. That drive keeps her going on stage and off, especially when it comes to tackling Bob Fosse’s unique style and choreography. “I get back in front of the mirror and I work and I work and I work until I can walk away going ‘okay, I’ve chipped another piece of that iceberg.’”
However, being on tour isn’t all work and no play. One of McLeod’s favorite parts of touring is the chance she has to explore the world around her. She’s performed everywhere, from New York and Los Angeles to Paris and Dubai, but the metropolises aren’t what catch her attention.
“You think, ‘oh, well the bigger cities are where I’m going to find what I’ve always wanted to see.’ Then you’ll play something like Kalamazoo. And you’ll find this charm in this small town that you never expected.”
Her sense of exploration spills over into the intellectual aspect of her life as well — McLeod began her college education in American Musical and Dramatic Academy’s certificate program, and is currently working on earning her bachelor’s degree in English.
“I’m always trying to reach for new levels of insight, new levels of learning,” she said. “I chose to go back to school years later and finish my degree because I realized in other areas of my life, of my journey, I felt limited.”
McLeod’s drive to widen her worldview reflects on the meaningful and thoughtful advice she’d give to her sixteen-year-old self and other teenagers.
“What is so significant now, what feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s going to pass. There’s such a huge life to live. You can be who you are and it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks. It’s all going to work out.”
You can see McLeod in “Chicago” beginning May 12 at the Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham. Showtimes are 8 p.m. May 12-13; 2 p.m. May 13 and 1:30 and 6 p.m. May 14, 2016. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets or in person or by phone at 919-680–2787.

Logan A. White is a home-schooled high school junior and a Teens & 20s writer.

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