The Broadway community is no stranger to siblings residing together on the Great White Way—The Fosters, Gummers, Marshalls, Keenan-Bolgers and of course the legendary Booths of yore come to mind, to name but a few. But we all know sisterhood is an extra-special bond (and no, in this particular instance, I am not speaking of singing nuns).
The point is, there is nothing like growing up side-by-side; sharing your dreams, ambitions and no doubt a community theatre stage (or five) together, and then seeing those dreams become a reality.
But unlike the siblings mentioned above, the Boggess sisters had differing art forms and artistic ambitions (Summer as a cellist and Sierra as a performer)—but they just happened to land in the same destination.
Ladies and Gentleman,
And what a sister act it is (…loooook…I realize I just made that nun comment and… well, I don’t wanna get sued… so…forgive?)
[Sound Cue: “Sisters”—Irving Berlin’s White Christmas feather-fan spectacular…]
Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Summer and Sierra Boggess were the eldest of a set of three sisters, all born two years closer apart. All closer than close; best friends and favorite playmates.
Their first memories are of growing up re-enacting their favorite movie, Disney's Sword In The Stone. Summer played Merlin and Sierra, Madam Mim.
“We had a small plastic inflatable pool in our backyard and we would have wizard's duels,” they cackle, “We’d stand back to back, count off, and march in place, trying to knock the other over into the pool.”
They also made up countless imaginative worlds.
“And they were really involved,” Summer, the eldest of the Boggess sisters, reports, “I was ‘Lucy’ and Sierra was ‘Sophie’ and they were best friends… who were also microscopic.”
[. . . : ::—tumble weed—:: : . . .]
Um. Why, you ask?
“Why not!” They respond.
“We could go into great detail, believe me there's a lot of detail, but that's another article.” Sierra laughs flashing her signature glittering smile.
“Or a musical,” Summer chimes in, doing a dead-pan take to her sister.
Someone call Douglas Carter-Beane.
Summer, Sierra and their younger sister Allegra, all began playing piano at the age of four, and then went on to selecting the musical instruments they wanted to play for their elementary school band. As they grew, their exceptional musical abilities became apparent, and they began playing together.
“We would play trios in church, and for a few weddings” Sierra explains, “Summer on cello, me on the flute, and Allegra on oboe and sometimes piano— Allegra was definitely the ‘family pianist’” Sierra smiles.
Also, the two eldest ‘Sisters Boggess,’ like any self-respecting Coloradan, engaged in winter sports.
[Cue: a classic Goofy®-style cartoon theme song]
|Thumbs up Sierra!|
“We ice skated!” says Summer, “The first ten years of our lives was spent ice skating, in competitions. We woke up at 5 am to be at the rink before school. The whole thing.”
But Musical Theatre quickly became Sierra’s primary passion. “Summer loved and breezed through her academics, but just like a lot of people, High School was hard for me! But getting to school so I could go to Band, Orchestra, Drama and Choir? Those classes all saved me! Before long musical theatre became my world, and I knew I had to study in in college and become a professional.” But what of the flute? “Oh I still continued to play the flute! Though it is more of a hobby.”
I mean… my hobbies are binging on crime drama on my DVR…but, no, flute is cool too.
As for Summer, she went off to college at University of Colorado without a crystal clear path.
“But I had an amazing cello teacher there named Judith Glyde who opened my eyes to being a professional.” Summer switched her major to Cello Performance and soon she was spending ten hours a day in a practice room, and went on to get her Masters from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
“Well, of curse we all grew up watching musicals! But in college I always volunteered to play for every musical or opera— I loved working and collaborating with singers on vocal repertoire so much. I love how expressive they have the capacity to be, and I like supporting them. As a collaborative musician you have to be so aware and tuned in to a vocalist’s slightest variations in breath or expression—they always do a different show every night! Also, I have so much respect for the fact that a singer cannot hide behind an instrument. Their voice is who they are. It take so much courage. I consider it to be the ultimate expression.”
Allegra now teaches piano and oboe in economically disadvantaged areas of the world.
“That is another huge part of who we are.” Summer continues “All of us are passionate about using music to empower young people.”
All three Boggess sisters support ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty)— founded by Broadway’s Mary Mitchell Campbell.
“I recently returned from visiting Allegra in Afghanistan,” says Summer, “Allegra works there full time and I was visiting to teach and play concerts at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. And we often spend parts of our summer at the Shanti Bhavan school in India. Sierra is always working but she sings on every album and at every concert!”
“We’re so fortunate that each path has allowed us to be able to work together,” Sierra adds.
“It was always the three of us—” Summer concurs, “playing music together.”
But being part of the Broadway community together is an ultimate dream come true. One almost can’t imagine a more perfect living metaphor for the way each sister views and cherishes the other.
“I have always admired Sierra's courage to make her own path. Growing up, I'd always watch her climb a tree or go over a bridge first and if she didn't fall I'd be brave enough to try it myself.”
“When I was singing in The Little Mermaid” Sierra says, “It felt incredible knowing that Summer was in the orchestra pit playing her cello. Whenever she subbed for Mermaid I would listen for her solo cello-lines and it made for such an amazing performance…” Sierra stops a moment, then adds, thoughtfully, “I trust Summer with my life. I know she always has my back.”
|"...for there is no friend like a sister..." - Christina Rossetti|
* * *
Summer is currently playing in the Broadway orchestra of Porgy and Bess at the Richard Rodgers Theatre
Sierra is currently playing in Love, Loss and What I Wore until March 25th at The Westside Theatre and can be seen on the DVD and Blue-Ray recording of The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary concert at The Royal Albert Hall, starring as Christine Daaé.