Tamyra Gray on the existential experience of 'If/Then' - Metro US

Tamyra Gray on the existential experience of ‘If/Then’

Tamyra Gray
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Broadway hit “If/Then” arrives in Boston on July 5 for run at the Boston Opera House through July 17. The musical follows Elizabeth, a divorcee who moves to New York City to pursue her dreams, as the storyline splits into two parallel universes where one whim decision (and many subsequent ones) following the influences of her friends changes the entire trajectory of her future.

We chat with Tamyra Gray, who joined the national tour in January with Jackie Burns (Elizabeth) and Matthew Hydzik (Josh), and plays Kate, the emotion-driven neighbor and friend of Elizabeth.

Where are we chatting with you from now?

We’re in Philly and have had really awesome audiences. It’s great being able to talk to people after the show and hear it confused them, or impacted them or maybe changed their way of thinking.

Yeah, I meant to ask you about the “Sliding Doors” element of this show. Two parallel hypothetical storylines must be kind of confusing. How would you explain the show to people?

It’s a tale about life and the choices we make, and how they affect not just us, but everyone we come in contact with in the microcosms and macrocosms of universe. It’s about trust and introspection and how those lessons we’ve learned give us the courage to choose different paths.

Tell us about your character, Kate. Who is she, and what does she represent?

She’s a kindergarten teacher, and she believes in the laws of the universe — like destiny, true love and all those things where people would say, “You’re living in a kids’ world.” She does, to an extent, because you need to stay in touch with the child within when you’re working with kindergarten students. She lives with her emotions on her sleeve basically.

I think she represents the fairy godmother or good witch perspective, where she’s just telling [Elizabeth] to follow her heart. She represents emotions, but all the emotions, not just the happy ones. She lives in a human place, where you’re honest and don’t hold back.

Without giving too much away, which storyline of the two fates — Liz and Beth —do you prefer for Kate?

I think I prefer the ending where Kate follows her own heart. She’s willing gives her heart to everyone else. In a moment of despair, her own teachings and words are reflected back to her, and in her darkness she listens and reminds herself who she is.

So after this many years, how often do you still get referred to as an “American Idol” alumni?

As often as it has come up. It’s been great though. I’m so grateful for “American Idol.” Who’s to say what my life would be at this point if it weren’t for the show. I’d probably still be doing theater and singing but it might not be at the level I’m at now.

Is that like one of your own life “If/Then” moments?

It’s definitely in there, but there have been so many. If I never watched [the TV show] “Posters,” I might have not been so eager to audition. If I hadn’t been in my friend’s living room in New York, I might have never seen the commercial for auditions.

Is the show starting to get in your head with what-ifs?

In the beginning, I was like “What am I doing? What I can do differently? What can I do to live my best life?” It made me a little loony, but the lyrics make you really think about your life and appreciate who you are and how much courage and strength you’ve needed to walk your walk every day of your life. All our trials, tribulations and victories reflect who we are. You don’t get a person who is super successful without moments where they feel like they’ve failed.

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