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From Bullhead City to Broadway: James D. Gish achieves a 'Beautiful' dream

James D. Gish graduated from ASU in 2017 with a business degree, though he said his heart has always been with theater.

February 10, 2020

From sitting in the seats to shining on the stage, one ASU graduate and Arizona local will be returning home in February. 

James D. Gish plays the role of Gerry Goffin in the touring production of "Beautiful — The Carole King Musical" coming to ASU Gammage on Feb. 21-23.  

Gish moved to Bullhead City, Arizona, when he was 11.  He graduated from ASU in 2017 with a business degree, though he said his heart has always been with theater. 

“During college was when (theater) really started to take hold of who I was,” Gish said. 

While at ASU, he would spend his mornings in business classes, daydreaming of the stage. He recalls the days he would head right to the ASU Gammage box office after class to see if student rush tickets were available for that night. 

“I saw a lot of shows at ASU Gammage, and every time I did, there was a little voice in the back of my mind saying, ‘Oh man, you know you want to be up there,’” Gish said. “For it to be happening, and a lot sooner than I would have expected, is amazing. I have really lucked out with this.” 

Gish said he developed his passion for musical theater at Phoenix Theatre Company. 

“The happiest I have ever been was playing Jack Kelly in 'Newsies,'” he said. “I credit Arizona and Phoenix Theatre Company for everything I have.” 

Gish even met his agent through his roots in Bullhead City — the same agent who helped Gish land the role in "Beautiful."

“The first conversation I had with my agent was like, ‘It’s so great to meet you; when can I get an audition for 'Beautiful'?” Gish said. 

On his first visit to New York City, the musical struck a major chord in his life. 

“I was so moved because I grew up with Carole King’s music — it’s all my parents played,” Gish said. “Just like a lot of our audience members, her music is the soundtrack of my life.”  

The actor highlights the importance of the characters in the show, including the role of the character he plays, Gerry Goffin. 

King’s ex-husband highlights many important issues regarding mental health and dealing with inner demons, Gish said. 

“This is the sort of role that makes people uncomfortable,” he said. “It makes them think, it makes them feel.” 

Even though Gish’s origins lay in classical music, he said he is thrilled to be playing a character with a more contemporary style. 

“This show is very real,” he said. “It’s not often that a story grips the audience and speaks to them quite like this show does.” 

Manny of Gish's friends and family will be in the audience when it hits the ASU Gammage stage. 

“It’s going to be electric,” he said.  

Don’t miss "Beautiful — The Carole King Musical" at ASU Gammage on Feb. 21–23. Tickets are on sale now.

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