Anita Riggio conceived the Equity project as writer and lyricist, having first written the children's book "Beware the Brindlebeast," based on her own experience. The musical focuses on confronting your personal demons and involves a deaf single mother and a children's book illustrator coming together and resolving their personal issues. Tessa is the matchmaker daughter of the single mother, eager to be a conduit of information between the two via signing.
"I looked through all the photos and résumés of all the 9- to 12-year-old girls in the Back Stage roster," states Riggio. In producing her own work, Riggio knew it was paramount to cast the best talent and went about setting up multiple auditions. She vividly remembers the impression Emily left on her. "Emily did her homework," Riggio recalls. "She came prepared knowing fingerspelling and a few signs. She looked everyone in the eye, asked questions, and established immediate rapport with Eric Kunze [the male lead] by teaching him how to fingerspell his name."
Emily knew that confidence with the sides was key to landing this role. "You usually are only given a few pages of script, with very broad descriptions," she explains. "But if there is something like ASL, I do as much research as time allows." In regard to preparation, Emily is currently taking acting intensives with Diane Hardin and works one-on-one with choreographer Lane Napper.
"Brindlebeast" is currently being developed. Emily explains, "We have been in the recording studio once and will be headed back to record more songs. We are hoping to have a producer's reading later this year. I have learned so much from this role, and the signing will stay with me forever."
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