Theater & art


Futaba Shioda has grown into a new role on a familiar stage

North Shore Music THEATRE

Age: 19

Hometown: Burlington

Think of: Actress, singer, and writer Jenna Ushkowitz, who appears on “Glee” and has starred in Broadway musicals.


What caught our eye: Shioda made her acting debut on the North Shore Music Theatre stage at age 7, playing the role of Tam in a production of “Miss Saigon.” Now a musical theater major at New York University, she is returning to the same stage to perform multiple roles in this season’s run of “Miss Saigon.”

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Lightbulb moment: Shioda’s mother signed her up for theater camp when she was 6 after they had seen “Peter Pan” at the North Shore Music Theatre. “And then we got word they were looking for someone to play Tam [in ‘Miss Saigon’]. I didn’t know what an audition was, but we figured let’s just go and see what it’s about. From that point, I didn’t have a doubt that acting was definitely it for me.”

Biggest thrill: “I enjoy being able to tell people stories. I find it’s a serious responsibility to make sure the audience understands. To go out there on stage and be in the moment, there’s nothing else that matters.”

Biggest surprise: “A lot of people think acting is just pretending to be someone else. But it’s not running away from yourself, it requires you to explore yourself. It’s your body and your emotions that you put into these characters.”

Inspired by: Her role models include actress/singer Lea Salonga, the original Kim in the Broadway cast of “Miss Saigon,” and her “Miss Saigon” costar Rona Figueroa, who will be playing Gigi in the upcoming show.


Aspires to: “My dream since I was little was to be on Broadway. I want to be able to spend my life practicing what I love.”

For good luck: Shioda doesn’t rely on a good-luck charm or ritual; instead she channels her nervous energy into a pre-performance warm-up routine to get her mind and body focused. Ever respectful of traditional theater superstitions, she learned early on to say “break a leg!” instead of “good luck!” and never, ever mentions “Macbeth.”

What people should know: Her creativity extends beyond the stage into the visual arts. “The very first acrylic painting I did was an oversized portrait of my favorite English teacher, Mr. Lally. It was a huge, multicolored collage I gave to him at the end of the year. I hope he still has it.”

Coming soon: “Miss Saigon” opens Nov. 5 at the North Shore Music Theatre for a two-week run.


Steph Hiltz can be reached at