Q&A with Jessie Pendergraft


Jesse O. Walls/ The Chart

Jessie Pendergraft

Jessie Pendergraft, sophomore vocal music education major, will take to the stage as Mrs. Tottendale in Southern Theatre’s upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone. A different type of character for Pendergraft, she has performed in shows such as Beauty and the Beast and Pagliacci.

When did you first take interest in theater?

I think that when I was younger I was sort of weird and outgoing and it just came naturally for me to be drawn to it.

How long have you been acting and what are some of the performances you have been in?

I’d say probably since 8th grade or so. I’ve been in, briefly, Excalibur, and I’ve done a lot of one-acts and debate tournaments with HIs and DIs and duos, and I was in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Beauty and the Beast and Pagliacci here not that long ago.

What is your favorite role that you have played, and why?

The two biggest roles I’ve encountered and had biggest connections with was Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Muzzy was sultry and cool and jazzy, and I think I connected with her a lot more than I did Belle, so I would probably say her.

What is it like to play the role of Mrs. Tottendale in the upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone?

Well, at first I was really apprehensive; I was really unsure. Actually, I was like, I don’t know if I can do this. I kind of took it as a challenge, cause I usually don’t play roles that are funny or old, so I kind of looked at it as something different, so I came in with an open and it’s actually a lot of fun to do.

What first inspired you to audition for The Drowsy Chaperone?

Well I heard the music and I knew it was a lot of fun and I knew it was a good opportunity for me, ‘cause I really love musical theater. I didn’t know much about the show but I very much love it now. I just knew it was going to be a good opportunity.

Do you ever feel nervous when you go into an audition?

Oh sure, oh yeah. Yes.

Have you ever had a bad audition in the past?

I don’t know. Yeah, I would say, yes, I have. I kind of went in and I wasn’t sure of myself. I was kind of passive, not really there.

What kind of roles do you most like to portray on stage?

I’d adventure to say strong and confident women, I think those are the ones I can connect with the easiest and the quickest, and I can understand those.

What role would you most like to play?

In Annie, I think Miss Hannigan would be a lot of fun.

Who are some of your favorite actors/actresses, on stage or in film?

I think Tom Hanks is wonderful; I’ve come to appreciate him recently.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Honestly, from audience a lot of time, and just natural human interaction and day-to-day interactions I have with people or I see happening.

What do you like to do in your down time?

I don’t have much of that, but I like to I guess to sing what I prefer to sing, just what I like to sing.