Cresson native a Broadway star: Ingold had her start in local musical theater
By Patt Keith
At 21, Cresson native Carley Ingold has traveled the world as a dancer, actress and singer — as she uses her talent, strong work ethic and family values to happily succeed in the very competitive world of musical theater.
“I remember the first time I met Carley,” said Karen Volpe, program specialist at the Blair County Arts Foundation and a member of Altoona Community Theatre’s board of directors. “She was a toddler and was along with her mom and two older sisters. (Even then) she had this little spark that ignited the stage. Your eye would naturally be drawn to her on stage.”
That “spark” captured Volpe’s attention and she speculates “that spark” is why “Carley was plucked from her studies at Point Park (University, Pittsburgh) to do an international tour with West Side Story.”
Through 18 countries over two years, Carley played “Minnie” (one of the Jets) before 500,000 fans throughout Europe, Ireland and the Middle East. She also served as an understudy for the character “Anybody.” The West Side International Tour ran from October 2016 to January 2018.
Once back in New York City, she auditioned on Broadway for the role of Cha-Cha in the Broadway musical “Grease.” She earned the role and is spending the summer performing at at the Midtown Art Center in Fort Collins, Colo., through Aug. 26.
At her NYC audition alone about 200 women tried out, plus other casting calls were made elsewhere around the country.
Carley approaches auditions with a positive, if-it’s-meant-to-be attitude.
“(Musical theater) is crazy because you can go to 20 or more auditions in a week and get called back for any and all of them,” Carley said in a phone interview on her day off recently. “Often, they are looking for a a very specific type and (rejection) isn’t personal. There are always some things out there for you and and some are not for you. I don’t get discouraged. You can’t be something you’re not, so if they are looking for something specific do your best, be yourself and see what happens.”
Auditioning isn’t a one-and-done experience, but a multi-step process as producers whittle down the masses and select the best person for each role.
“Carley is a triple threat as she sings, dances and acts,” Volpe said. “She has this joyful attitude about life. She enjoys life and this comes across on stage and I’m sure during auditions. Also, she had a true gift nurtured by her family in a unique way as they supported and encouraged but didn’t push.”
Carley’s parents Anthony and Tracey Ingold of Cresson, raised their three daughters to pursue their passions and provided them with the opportunities to learn and grow. Their oldest, Devon, 27, is married and pursuing an advance degree in art in London; their middle daughter is Sister Caroline Caritas, 26, a member of the Sister of Life Catholic order in New York City.
“They all grew up to be the person they desired and what they were dreaming of being as children,” mother Tracey said. “And, most of all they are great people, so I get to follow them around and see them succeed. I’ve been to Europe five times and I can’t believe it.”
Speaking about Carley and the theater’s roller-coaster life, her mother said, “Carley has been blessed with a temperament that she doesn’t let rejection worry her and has been like that from the time she was little until today. So she is in the right business. If it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be. She doesn’t leave auditions crying.”
The couple lived in Altoona and later moved to Cresson, where Tracey homeschooled the girls and Anthony worked “to finance all the dance and lessons,” Tracey joked.
When Tracey discovered Cresson Lake Playhouse, theater became a family affair with mom and daughters performing and/or working behind the scenes, Anthony constructed sets and manned the concession stand. Theater, dance, music and vocal lessons provided numerous opportunities for Carley to socialize and learn.
“I could get all my school work done in the morning and have my afternoon and evenings free. I was always at dance or at the theater,” Carley recalled. “My first show was the Sparkle Express when I was 6 and I continued to perform in these Sparkle shows until I graduated high school at 18 (from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School).”
Carley struggled to name a favorite local production she appeared in, but settled on “Meet Me In St. Louis,” because her mom and sisters also performed. Her second choice is “Oklahoma!” because she performed with her grandfather at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona.
“The Mishler is still one of the most beautiful theaters I’ve performed in,” she said. “Other theaters remind me of the Mishler, but they are often much bigger. The Mishler is beautiful, I love it.”
Asked if she had any tips to young, aspiring actors/dancers, she said, “Try to do everything you can do. Do the dancing, singing and acting and audition for everything and anything. I went to the West Side auditions for fun and to gain audition experience. I ended up getting in. Don’t think anything is too big because anything can happen when you work hard.”
Mirror staff writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.
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The Ingold file
Name: Tracey Ingold
Education: 2015 graduate of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School
Family: Anthony and Tracey Ingold of Cresson; grandparents Herman and Sandy Nagle of Altoona
Quote: “You can’t be something you’re not, so if they are looking for something specific; do your best, be yourself and see what happens.”
Catching up with is an occasional series about people who have become success stories after starting out in central Pennsylvania.
For suggestions about future stories, please call Patt Keith at (814) 949-7030.