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Arts+Movies » The 2012 Fall Arts Issue

Mary Fishburne asserts her spot in Charleston’s theater scene

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Three days after graduating from Vanderbilt University, Fishburne packed her bags and drove to New York City with dreams of landing the role of Glinda in Broadway's Wicked. She jokingly blames her hometown church members from Rock Hill, S.C., for making her believe she was something special. "I'm surprised that the residents of my hometown aren't sick of me yet." After three years in New York, Fishburne returned home to the South where her faithful fans now make the trip to see her productions in Charleston.

The Big Apple. While she found success in the city, the Big Apple was humbling for Fishburne, who says the worst case scenario was not getting the job, and the second worst case scenario was getting the job and then finding someone trustworthy to sublet her apartment, figuring out health insurance, and maintaining her day job.

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Homeward bound. Fishburne always knew she would return home one day, but a family emergency in 2011 expedited her relocation. "I left New York reluctantly, but it only took attending three or four shows in Charleston for me to realize that I'd moved somewhere with an exceptional theater community." She's performed in five productions in the past year, including South Pacific at the Dock Street Theater. "I feel so lucky to have had so much success in such a short amount of time."

Busy bee. There's more than luck behind this hardworking actor who also sings opera, plays the violin, and teaches private voice lessons in her spare time. Musical theater is her true love, however. With six-week rehearsals and three-week performances, Fishburne stays busy and says she is inspired by constantly moving forward.

The eternal optimist. Fishburne's bubbly personality shines through in everything she does. She is cautious of being typecast in the sweet and cute role and says Tell Me on a Sunday, an Andrew Lloyd Webber one-woman musical, will change the way viewers see her. Produced by Sheri Grace Wenger at Midtown Productions, this will be Fishburne's most vulnerable role, but she is looking forward to the challenge. "Even though I was successful in New York, Charleston is where my dreams have come true."

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