in focus:lily smith

Cary Grant likened a stage to a factory. If that’s the case, Lily Smith, of Vernon Drive, is definitely in charge of her own production.

Smith, who just graduated from Syracuse with a BFA in musical theater, already is cast in two musicals. She’ll play the part of Jellylorum in the Pittsburgh CLO production of Cats, July 18 through July 27. Then, starting in the fall, she’ll spend a year in the ensemble and be the understudy for Grace in the national tour of Annie, part of the PNC Broadway Across America in Pittsburgh. The tour will take her to such cities as New Orleans, Detroit and Las Vegas, and to Florida, Texas and California. The tour hits Pittsburgh in October and November.

“If I hadn’t been in New York City, I wouldn’t have made it to the tryouts,” she says, crediting her “Tepper Semester” for her success. That special last semester in the Syracuse program features an intensive study session in the heart of the Great White Way, with opportunities for tryouts and a sample of life in New York. That semester preceded her senior showcase, where she performed for agents and managers in hopes of securing representation.

“I think I’m most looking forward to learning from other professionals,” she says of the work. She wants to learn how to manage the lifestyle and stay healthy, especially since both roles require a lot of singing.

“I started because I was in love with singing,” she says of her trajectory. That’s no surprise, given that she grew up in a musical household. Dad, Zachary Smith, plays French horn in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and mom, Helen Andrascik, plays violin with the Wheeling Symphony. She also credits her progress to such programs as Center for Theater Arts, her vocal teacher, Charlotte Sonne, high school drama teacher Cynthia Schreiner and orchestra director Bob Vogel, who let her squeeze in music electives over lunch so she could fit everything in. “I never had to choose anything,” she says. “Mt. Lebanon made me more well-rounded as a person.”

While a Broadway gig is the ultimate dream, Smith also says she wants to have steady work. “I always said my goal out of college was to get a tour and I did, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing to dream big and say it out loud.”

Tickets for Cats start at $35 and can be purchased online at or by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square. Half-price tickets are available for children ages 3 to 14 for select performances in Price Scale C, sponsored by Giant Eagle. Annie ticket info has not yet been released.