When a new-to-theater, teenage Krissalyn Love was told by an instructor at a musical theater camp that she was destined for supporting roles and not leading roles, Love believed her.
“It was my first time even being exposed to musical theater, honestly,” Love wrote in a Facebook post. “It was nearing the end of the camp, and the lead instructor was going around and telling everyone if they were leading ladies or if they were supporting ladies. She got to me, looked puzzled and then said, ‘Yes, you’re supporting,’
“I didn’t really care. At that point I had never even been in a play. However, she proved to be right. I’ve not been in many plays, but I’ve landed supporting roles in the plays I’ve been in.
“Until today, as I have been cast in the upcoming production of ‘The Wiz’ as Dorothy!”
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The 28-year-old Louisville native might be new to the stage, but she’s a veteran gospel performer.
A quick Google search reveals that she is known for her voice.
“Good Lord, Krissalyn Love’s voice is such a blessing to my soul!!” is the name of one YouTube video that pops up, in addition to links on Spotify and iTunes to Love’s single “Better.”
Love settled in Lexington after finishing her undergraduate studies in English at the University of Kentucky and keeps busy as a gospel performer, singer and songwriter. She sings backup for the band Jay and the Team, and she is working on writing and producing a solo album of original gospel music.
Wes Nelson, executive director of Kentucky Conservatory Theatre and director of “The Wiz,” says Love’s voice is pitch-perfect in its ability to convey the nuance of Dorothy’s emotional journey, which Nelson says is deeper and more involved than other versions of Frank L. Baum’s classic tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
“Dorothy has to carry the show,” he says. “She has brought such an innocence and sense of discovery to her work, and she has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever worked with.
“She may do something slightly different every time, and it will not only be true to character but also technically sung so wonderfully.”
Love is delighted with her first lead role, but she acknowledges that there’s an added challenge of making such an iconic role her own.
“I have worried in the past about being compared to Diana Ross (who played Dorothy in the 1978 movie) and Stephanie Mills (who originated the role on Broadway) — I mean these are giants — but at the same time, I think Wes has done such an amazing job allowing me to internalize it and bring it to life,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure.”
But she feels up to the task. She says she doesn’t see it as proving her old teacher wrong.
“When this opportunity came around, I remembered that moment, and my feelings weren’t hurt,” she says. “I wasn’t like,’ I am gonna prove her wrong.’
“More than proving her wrong, I proved myself wrong,” Love says. “For a long time, I believed what she said because that’s just all I saw.
“It was a great moment to get the call that I got the leading role of something when I thought I would never get that opportunity. It was great. I could be like, ‘OK, I have what it takes. Whether people see it or not, I have something.’”
If you go
What: SummerFest’s production of the Charlie Smalls-William F. Brown musical
When: July 6-9 and 13-16; gates open at 7:30 p.m., performance starts at 8:45 nightly
Where: Woodland Park, 601 E. High St.
Tickets: $15 general admission, $20 with chair rental