FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A Central Valley talent is making waves on the boards at Broadway.
Salisha Thomas knew she was destined to work under the bright lights of Broadway from an early age. Her first ever play was “Wagon Wheels West” at Manchester GATE elementary school in Fresno, and Thomas says she was hooked.
“I played the female bandit, and I loved it,” recounts Thomas before singing a portion of her part of the production. “I’m just a lonely, a loh-oh-nley coyote,” she sings, before letting out a howl worthy of any Broadway stage.
Thomas then took her talents to Tenaya Middle School and eventually Bullard High School where she thrived on the improv team and performed on stage in front of her friends and family.
“First of all, it didn’t look like this,” Thomas said referencing the upgraded Bullard auditorium. “This is, like, totally renovated, it looks so beautiful!”
School Stages to Theme Park Fame
After her bow on the local stage, she took to the Disney stage taking on the role of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog in Mickey and the Magical Map at Disneyland.
“It was so fun and I loved it so much,” Thomas remembers. “But one day I woke up and I was like, ‘I think there’s more.'”
Risk and Reward
On a month-long vacation to New York City, Thomas decided to take a big risk, and commit to her quest for the Broadway stage. She put in her notice at Disneyland from the “Big Apple,” sold everything she owned, and moved to New York City.
While working at a diner in Manhattan, Thomas learned of an upcoming audition from a fellow stage actor.
“I booked the first national tour of ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,'” she says. “It felt like a dream come true, like, ‘Is this really happening?'”
Touring the Country
The list of US locations to which the production brought Thomas is vast and includes Washington D.C., Iowa, Austin, Dallas, Houston and several theaters in California including Hollywood’s famed Pantages Theater.
“We were in […] every major city in America,” Thomas says.
Thomas’ success in the touring company eventually led to a call she says she had been hoping to receive. That call wasn’t actually a call, as it turns out, rather a text message from her agent saying the part she played on the tour had opened up on Broadway and asking if she wanted it.
Wanting it, Thomas says, was an understatement.
From Bullard to Broadway
“I had been waiting to make my Broadway debut for over a decade, and it’s finally presented and it’s in a text!”
In 2017, Salisha Thomas made her debut on the ‘Great White Way.’
“There are way more beautiful women than me, there are way more women who can outsing me, I’m like so grateful to God,” Thomas says, adding that anyone hoping to follow her path to Broadway should embrace who they are.
“All the things that make you weird, all the things that maybe people tease you about now, get excited about those things because all the things that make you different are the things that are going to set you apart.”
Thomas has several performances scheduled in New York, including a birthday concert. Information on her upcoming events is available on Thomas’ website.