Junior Spotlight: Sally Zheng goes into the woods for this spring’s musical


Karen Lin

Sally Zheng will play The Baker’s Wife in this year’s musical, Into the Woods

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It’s not the norm for sophomores to win the lead part in the school play, but last year, Sally Zheng did just that when she took on the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. This year, Sally will be a lead once again in the Townsend Harris production of Into the Woods. Sally’s performance experience began long before high school.

“In elementary school, we put on a lot of little musicals in Drama Class, and I was always interested in singing, so I started trying out for bigger parts, and this interest continued into middle school and onwards,” Sally said. 

This year, after the cast list was posted on Google Classroom, Sally was delighted to find out that she would be playing the role of the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods.

“I’m looking forward to tech week and the performances because you can always sense the rush of energy and excitement in the air during those times,” Sally said. “One of the best parts has to be fooling around backstage or in the background during rehearsals,” she said. 

Little Mermaid co-director and English teacher Kevin Schwab described his experience working with Sally for the past two annual musical productions. “I’ve been very lucky to have someone who comes to the rehearsals with a character already in mind, with interpretations already ready to go,” Mr. Schwab said. “Sally has always been a performer who knows her characters and really knows how to put herself through the roles she’s playing, so it’s always a three-dimensional, fully realized performance from her.”

One of the most important parts of performing in a show is to ensure that the actors know their roles. “I get into character by doing research on their personality traits and embodying that on stage,” Sally said. “I also watch how other performers execute the role, taking pieces that I like and creating a new version of the character from that.” 

Mr. Schwab expressed what excites the directors about upcoming shows Sally will participate in. “I’d love to see Sally’s range since she is capable of [playing] so many different kinds of characters on a stage and not just the ingenues or the characters you’d expect to see her play,” Mr. Schwab said. “I think Sally is the type of performer who can surprise you and play a character you wouldn’t expect to see her in because she [has] so many great choices and intentions as a performer.”

Senior and stage manager of the musical Elyssa Lee said that working with Sally was a profoundly positive experience and that Sally was both “passionate and talented.”

Similarly, junior Amelia Lauren, assistant stage manager, said, “This is my second production I’ve worked on with Sally, and I have nothing but great things to say about her. She is a genuinely kind and humble person, who is a pleasure to work with.”

Photo by Karen Lin