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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Student actress Shannon Sullivan reflects on first lead role

There’s a first time for everything. Usually the Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group hires professional actors for main roles in their productions. This time they opted for someone closer to home.

Shannon Sullivan, an aspiring actress, was not expecting to land the lead role of Cherie, a nightclub singer, when she auditioned for “Bus Stop.”

“As an actor you’re always encouraged just to go, just to see what happens,” Sullivan said.  “And that’s what I did. I really didn’t think anything was going to come of it, and I ended up getting the part—and it was crazy.”

Landing the lead, Sullivan had the opportunity to showcase her talents in 10 performances of “Bus Stop,” a three-week running show directed by R. Michael Gross. Sullivan earned positive reviews from local critics for her performance in the William Inge production, which closed Nov. 2.

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This is Sullivan’s first year at City College, and her very first role in a college-level production. However, Sullivan is no stranger to the stage, she has been acting ever since she can remember.

“It’s exciting because it’s my first college show, but I’m also the only student in the play,” she said. “So it’s thrilling to get to work with adults, and I love this cast so much.”

With experience under her belt such as playing Reggie Fluty in “The Laramie Project” or Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Sullivan was excited how this role differs from others.

“This is the first role where I’m considered the sex symbol,” she said.  “I usually play the b****, or the mean character. I’ve never been like the sexy gal, and that’s been funny for me to get used to.”

Although Sullivan’s character was played by Marilyn Monroe in the 1956 film, she said she never tried to mimic the blonde bombshell on stage.

“I’ve never had to have the expectations of Marilyn behind me,” she said. “That’s high standards to live up to. I don’t play it like Marilyn because no one is Marilyn, except for Norma Jean.”

While no Marilyn Monroe, Sullivan said she identifies with Cherie.  They both share the same expectations for love. What Cherie wants most is someone to just love her for who she, which Sullivan said resonates with her.

“If people who know me come to watch the play, I don’t want them to see Shannon. I want them to not recognize me. I want them to see Cherie.”


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