KSU Music Student Pursues Theater Dreams in New York after Being Discovered in Local Production


ATLANTA, Ga. (Dec 14, 2016) — Janna Graham finished her last semester at Kennesaw State University while working in New York.

Janna Graham at Times SquareThe semester before a college student’s graduation is usually pretty hectic. With finals, filling out job applications and panicking about the future, there’s a lot to complete before receiving a diploma.

Kennesaw State University student Janna Graham’s last few months in college have certainly been hectic, but not in the traditional way. When a Kennesaw State faulty member recommended Graham to fill in as a drummer during a rehearsal for Alliance Theatre’s “The Prom,” the student impressed the crew so much that they decided to keep her in the show. The Stone Mountain native formed a relationship with “The Prom’s” musical director and conductor Mary-Mitchell Campbell, who invited her to move to New York to pursue her dreams.

Campbell, whose Broadway credits include “Finding Neverland”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Company” and “Tuck Everlasting”, offered her couch to Graham until she was able to get on her feet in the new city. “I have a history of taking interest in talent but this was the first time I’ve ever gone out of town and brought [someone] back to New York,” she said.

Janna Graham posing with fansShortly after moving, Graham began working as the drummer for The New Group’s off-Broadway production of “Sweet Charity” while working remotely to complete the work for her last semester in college. “It was really intense,” she said. “We would have 12-hour rehearsals for the show and I’d be doing statistics homework while I was in rehearsal.” Nearly two months later, Graham moved into an apartment of her own in Astoria, Queens. She graduates from Kennesaw State this month, but won’t be in town for the graduation.

Although Graham will visit her family for Christmas, she said she’s definitely planning to remain in New York after “Sweet Charity” ends in January. She is currently applying for teaching positions and on the lookout for upcoming productions. Graham said she is still adjusting to being away from her family, the weather and crowds, but admits the opportunities she’s received make it all worth it.

Originally published on AJC’s Atlanta Life and Culture Blog

Story by Jewel Wicker | Atlanta Journal Constitution