Elaina Noel Wahl, a graduate of the Baltimore Actors Conservatory, a performing arts high school, has achieved a measure of success as an ensemble player in the current production of the musical extravaganza "Ziegfeld" at the Mechanic Theatre.
Wahl and a chorus of other attractive young women represent the perfect "Ziegfeld Girl" in the show. They glide down the gold and black runway in glittering costumes in time to the Irving Berlin song, "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" and other favorite nostalgic tunes.
The actress/dancer/singer has been performing since the age of 6, when she was enrolled in the BAT (Baltimore Actors Theater) theater arts program by her mother, local actress Christina Wahl.
Wahl's younger sister, Stephanie, is also a former BAT member.
"Mother and Stephanie and I worked together in BAT musical productions," says Wahl, a slender young woman with long blond hair and an engaging smile.
"I learned an awful lot from the conservatory," she says. "I went all the way through high school there studying under Helen Grigal, the founder and artistic director, and Eugene Anderson, the music director and headmaster.
"We would do the academic curriculum in the morning starting around 8:30 a.m.," she says. "From noon to 5 p.m. we studied the arts." Laughing, she recalls, "BAT was very disciplined. The students had to wear uniforms and keep their hair pulled straight back. We were instructed to rise when a teacher came into the room and curtsy to teachers in the hall.
"I think those rules have been relaxed somewhat now."
Wahl is also understudying the role of Madeline, one of the three leads in the musical, which is also being produced by the Harlequin Dinner Theatre group of Rockville.
A veteran of several Harlequin productions, Wahl has sung and danced her way through "Singin' in the Rain," "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Sugar Babies."
She toured with the Harlequin production of "My One and Only" and appeared in Chicago's Pheasant Run Theatre in "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and another version of "La Cage Aux Folles."
She is a graduate of Butler University in Indiana, where she received her degree in theater arts and studied costume design and history.
"I chose Butler because the college had a really nice interdisciplinary program, which helped me to achieve a rounded arts education," says Wahl, who was seated in her dressing room prior to a performance of "Ziegfeld."
"I received full dance training, private voice lessons and good theater background. There I studied costume designs and history, which stood me in good stead when I got a job in costume construction with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago," she says.
In between touring shows and dinner theater assignments, Wahl returns to her mother's home in Cockeysville.
"I loved Chicago," she says. "I moved there last year and worked with several Chicago theaters. I had to give up my apartment to take this job, but I was happy to do it," she adds quickly. "It is a wonderful show with multi-talented people."