If you are a fan of Glee, then you are most definitely familiar with Ali Stroker. She’s the blonde stunner with the hundred-watt smile and voice to match who was a finalist for this past season’s The Glee Project. While Ali didn’t win the competition, she did score herself a guest starring appearance on Glee as Betty, Artie’s love interest in the episode “I Do.” (You know, the one with the infamous Quinntana scene.) She also caused quite a splash last year when she and partner Dani Shay revealed their relationship in the most adorable way possible: in music video form. This week, Ali debuted her one-woman show, Finding Glee, at NYC’s 54 Below.
The house was packed with fans of all ages; including quite a few die hard Gleeks. I happened to be sitting next to Ali’s fourth grade teacher, who was overwhelmed with pride and excitement for her former student. It was completely heart warming. There was so much love in that room, the walls could hardly contain it. Ali’s dear friend John Early warmed up the crowd, then literally carried out the woman of the hour. Wearing a gold sequined gown and classic red lipstick, Ali looked like a modern day Lana Turner. She opened the show with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and it was quite evident that would be the theme of the evening. Ali Stroker is unstoppable.
Cabaret is so much more than getting up and singing a bunch of tunes. It’s artful storytelling, with songs as the glue that holds the whole thing together. Ali has written a wonderfully witty, and honest account of her experience as a performer. Wheelchair bound, she is quite candid about her paralysis, which was the result of a car accident when she was a toddler. While I have always found Ali to be a dynamic performer, I was blown away by her flawless vocal technique. Her nuanced version of “What I Did for Love” showed a side of the actress that we weren’t privy to in The Glee Project. She is candid but never snarky about her experiences in the industry, and of course, Lea Michele. As a performer, it’s natural to harbor some jealousy toward other successful artists, and Ali works it into her act with perfect candor and self-deprecation.
AfterEllen readers will be thrilled to know that Dani Shay was indeed in the audience, beaming the whole time. Ali refers to Dani as the “love of her life” and that even though she lost The Glee Project, meeting and falling in love with Dani made it all worth it. She then sang a beautiful, stripped down version of Jessie J’s “L.O.V.E.” It’s pretty powerful to be in a room where love is so openly embraced by all.
Ali has grown as a performer since The Glee Project, and I’m pretty she will spend the rest of her life busting down doors and inspiring everyone she meets. She admits that putting her life up on stage was a daunting experience, but as she says at the end of the show, “I didn’t think I could have it all, but anything is possible if you allow yourself to believe it.” We believe in you Ali! Hopefully she will bring her show back to NYC again in the near future.
p.s. As a young girl, Ali was on the cover of People…20 years before Lea Michele.