‘Curly Sue’ actress and ‘The Voice’ winner heads to Playhouse
Its a homecoming for a winner of “The Voice.”
When Alisan Porter graduated from Westport’s Staples High School in the late ’90s, she already had accomplished a great deal in the entertainment biz. She performed on “Star Search” when she was just 5, and became the show’s youngest winner ever; and then had the titular role in the John Hughes 1991 classic “Curly Sue.”
Post-high school, she appeared in a couple of Broadway musicals, sang with the band The Canyons, and released a couple of solo albums. But it was 2016 when her name was truly back in the spotlight, thanks to winning Season 10 of “The Voice.”
On July 27, Porter will be performing at the Ridgefield Playhouse, with singer/songwriter Jake Wildhorn opening the show.
Keith Loria: Having lived in Westport during your teen years, what does it mean to you to be playing at the Playhouse?
Alisan Porter: It definitely feels like a homecoming to me. I’m really excited to see my high school friends and catch up with people. Also, my best friend from high school, Drew McKeon, who is out on the road with Michael Bolton most of the time, was able to play these East Coast shows with me, so he will be joining me in Connecticut, which is total full-circle for us. We’ve been playing music together since high school so for us to be able to play at home is a big deal for both of us. These are the people who ignited the spirit of music for us — whether our friends or chorus teachers, or just the people of the state.
KL: What can those coming to the show expect on the night?
AP: They can expect a lot of new music, a couple of covers, some “Voice” moments — things that I did on the show. I just made a new album and I’m excited to start playing those songs and letting people in on what that’s like.
KL: Your new album is called Pink Cloud. Where did you go to record it?
AP: I recorded in Nashville and it has its roots there. I live in L.A., but I feel when it’s time to write and record my music, I’m most comfortable doing it there. I ended up leaving a major label and started my own company name and did things my way, hiring producers, writers and musicians myself. It’s a culmination of everything I’ve done the last three years.
KL: For those that know you from The Voice, how does this new music fit into your style?
AP: It’s kind of reminiscent of things I did on the show. I always stayed true to my love of music from back in the day. It definitely has hints of The Eagles and Patty Griffin. I did “Desperado” and “Let it Fly” on the show, and the album definitely fits in that genre. It’s very me. It’s throwback California country.
KL: You started your professional career at such a young age. How did it all come about?
AP: I asked to do it when I was super young. I took a break from the business after I did movies and stuff. When I was at Staples, I concentrated on musical theater and doing the shows there. For me, it was always about someday coming back as a singer/songwriter and being a recording artist. Yes, I started on “Star Search” and to come back and do “The Voice” as an adult was such a full-circle singing competition moment. Now, I do the parts I love and leave the rest of it behind.
KL: “Curly Sue” was a big hit, and I know you touched a little on that on “The Voice,” talking about how people still recognize you from that and the movies that followed. Looking back on that time now, what does it mean to you?
AP: It’s great. It’s just part of my story and part of my career and at the end of the day, it’s just this cool timeline. But now I get to focus on the music side of things, which for me has always been my first love.
KL: How did “The Voice” come about for you?
AP: I never expected that to be part of my story. A friend of mine knew a casting director and gave her my email, and then they called and I said, ‘why not?’ I just took things one day at a time and was seeing what happened. It wasn’t until towards the end that I felt like it might happen and it would carry me through to other things I wanted to do and allow me to make music, and luckily, that’s what happened.
KL: How has winning changed your life?
AP: It’s a wonderful balance for me. I’ve always been a singer and songwriter and I love writing for me and love writing for other people and I think the dream is to be able to do that as a job. It was few and far between, but now it’s more of a consistent thing. It’s my job. Between motherhood and that, I do it full-time, and I feel really lucky to be able to go out and play my music. Performing never gets old, no matter how many times you do it.
KL: Besides seeing friends and family, what are you looking forward to most about coming back to the area?
AP: Sherwood Diner is the go-to place and it’s always first on my list to go there for some cheese fries with my friends. We have yet to retire that.