Dance puts Charlotte Kavanagh on another plane. “Moving your body in a way that compliments the music just right, giving off a persona that drives your confidence through the roof, and getting to share that joy with others is what lights me up,” she exudes. It elevates her and attunes her to the audience in ways that little else can. Except for acting, perhaps. The evolution between the two was seamless. “I leaned towards more character style performances, so I always had an interest in acting, but just didn’t know it until I got into scene study class in my early 20s. There was a moment when I knew I had to make a decision between dance and acting. With dance there are always other avenues to take as you get older – I always dreamed of being an on-set choreographer, but I knew if I wanted to achieve that dream I had to start right away. At the same time, I was falling in love with acting, which has more longevity in performing. When it comes down to it, I love to be on camera or on a stage and I couldn’t imagine not giving my acting career a chance. I still love to choreograph and dance obviously, but acting has really helped me navigate myself as an artist and express myself in ways I couldn’t before.” Few people have the chance to marry their two professional great loves. “What a dream come true. I feel like all the hours of training, all the rejection, and all of the vulnerable spaces I put myself in have come to fruition. It can feel chaotic doing both dance and acting, like a seesaw on the tip of a mountain in a rainstorm, but the payoff is so worth it. I was so happy to go to set every day whether it was a dance day or scenes.”
Charlotte stars as Rosemary in the new Paramount+ hit series, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies. “It’s a crazy fun musical series with drama, quirkiness, and powerful messaging that tells the origin story of the Pink Ladies and how they changed Rydell through compassion and bravery. It’s a much more zoomed-in look at what it’s like at Rydell High for everyone.” Her character is as self-motivated as she is manipulative. “Rosemary is an insecure popular girl with a very strong mask of confidence. She is a shark and she is supposedly Susan’s best friend, but is really interested in her own agenda. She is obsessed with status and climbing the social ladder, so if tearing Susan down is what it takes to reach the top, she’ll do it.” But all that bravado serves to obfuscate the ocean of anxiety churning beneath. “She’s scared. Like every other kid at Rydell, she is trying to survive the expectations that are set for her. She is very privileged, so life is much easier for her than the next student, but I think the standard the Socs and their parents set for them keeps them in the lane they are in.”
Acting in a period piece was an absolute joy for Charlotte. “I loved it! The costumes, the sets, the language. It was so fun to play in a time before technology took over. It was also interesting to observe how much is different and how much has really stayed the same 70 years later.” As a leader of the Socs clique, Rosemary is consumed by trying to uphold the status quo that the Pink Ladies threaten to dismantle. “The Socs have always run the school. Being clean cut and cutting corners through privileges was the norm. The T-Birds were JDs (juvenile delinquents) and somewhat accepted their fate in their social standing. But when the Pink Ladies come in, they want to make a change for the better, dismantling the system that has been put in place for so long. This then inspires the rest of the school who have always struggled to speak up for themselves, even McGee. Change is bad for the Socs and thus creates conflict between the groups.” To see how this rivalry will play out, Charlotte teases, “You’ll just have to watch episode 10 to find out! Woo!” You don’t have to tell us twice! Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is now streaming on Paramount+.