The Oracle: Who or what is your inspiration?
Sondrine Bontemps: I mostly do musical theatre, so all the musicals I see inspire me and help make me a better performer. I have some personal favorites, like Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel and Lea Salonga. I won’t say that there’s one particular person who inspires me, because musical theatre is such a diverse art form. But definitely, Laura Osnes’ voice or Sutton Foster’s dancing inspires me. I’ve picked people in different spots.
TO: How and when did you get into singing?
SB: I’ve been singing my entire life, and I say that literally. I’ve grown up singing show tunes. My parents both love musicals so it was just part of my childhood. I think I discovered my love for singing at age three and my first musical, “Little Red Riding Hood,” was when I was in first grade. Ever since then I’ve been doing musical theatre and other performing arts summer camps. I’ve never not been singing.
TO: How much time do you spend practicing?
SB: If we count all the singing I do just around the house and with my friends, I would say I “practice” for around three to four hours a day. Most of that comes from choir and various voice lessons, but I also spend a lot of time on my own singing and learning new songs. However, it’s harder to practice for long periods of time because I could blow out my voice, which I’ve unfortunately done before. For Gunn Theatre productions, rehearsals are every day except Wednesday, and on some weekends closer to the show it’s ten-hour rehearsals. So, it’s a lot of time but it’s definitely worth it, because it’s a lot of fun and it’s what I love to do.
TO: What’s your favorite aspect of singing?
SB: My favorite part about singing is the ability to express an emotion through music, and to be able to create a feeling in yourself or in the audience through your words and through the power of your voice. Also, singing makes me really happy. Singing is one of those things for me that if I’m in a bad mood and I sing, I will actually make myself feel better.
TO: Do you plan to continue music in the future?
SB: Yes, my goal is to get a Bachelor in Fine Arts in musical theatre. My dream is to get on Broadway, and I’ve been told by so many people (others in the theatre world) that if there is anything else you would be happy doing for the rest of your life, you should pursue that instead, because this business is so hard. But there isn’t anything I’m as passionate about as musical theatre.
TO: How has music affected other aspects of your life?
SB: I definitely think music has been beneficial for my life. I’ve always considered myself very lucky because I’ve known from a very young age what I want to do with my life, and what I’m truly passionate about. Other people are still on that search. But pursuing musical theatre has definitely changed things like how much time I’m allowed to give for homework, how much social time I can have and family time. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s a burden. I’m very fortunate to have a very loving and supportive family, and more often than not, if I’m singing a song around the house, so is my whole family.
TO: What has been your favorite performance so far?
SB: I’m going to have to go with “Legally Blonde.” That show will always have a very special place in my heart because it was my first Gunn musical, and I got to play my favorite character that I have had the opportunity to play: Elle Woods. It was amazing to play this character who was so fun, but also very intelligent, very friendly and very lovable. Also, wearing all the pink was a lot of fun, working with the dog was fun, and my cast was awesome. That whole experience was amazing, and I would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat.
TO: How do you challenge yourself with your singing?
SB: I am constantly looking for new songs. If I find one that I like or I think would fit my voice well I will definitely try it. To constantly challenge myself I practice different genres of music, like pop, jazz and opera. I also have to work on going between the three voices, like chest voice, head voice and blend. Breath control and the fundamentals are also things that I can always improve on. You can never forget the technique, and with each song it’s different.
TO: What are you currently working on?
SB: Right now, I’m working on “Let Me Be Your Star” from SMASH and “Let It Go” from Frozen. I’m actually looking for songs for college auditions for next year, so my voice teacher, my mom and I have compiled a file of songs that I’m currently working on.
—Compiled by Elizabeth Zu