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Kent State graduate debuts in ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ tour

Jennifer Black (left) with her daughter Ina Black (right). Courtesy of Ina Black.

Ina Black, a recent theater graduate, auditioned for ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ North American tour in January with the help of her mother, Jennifer Black, an assistant dance professor.

“My mindset for it, my first call …  was, ‘Oh, I’m just going to do this for fun,’” Ina Black said. “Because it was my first audition for a big show ever.”

Ina Black said she then flew back and forth between New York City and Kent as she continued to receive more callbacks before landing her roles as Laura Pinhead, an ensemble member and an understudy for Jennifer Parker.

“I got [the call] literally 30 minutes before class, so I was in the shower and I got the call,” she said. “Then I was screaming, called my mom and I was literally shaking in class because I didn’t tell anyone yet.”

Rehearsals for the musical’s tour began in April, giving Ina Black enough time to prepare, but she said she was still nervous, especially being one of the younger cast members.

“I was just nervous that people were going to talk down on me because other people are more experienced than I am,” she said.

To help calm her nerves, after every rehearsal she would call her mom to talk about her day, she said.

“She would give me advice, or she would be like, ‘okay, this is how you navigate this’ or ‘you should practice this more,’” Ina said.

Ina Black said Jennifer Black is the reason why she chose to pursue theater in college, as she has not only seen her mom pursue a similar career but also received support from her.

“[Jennifer Black] told me, ‘go into it, do your best and just know you’re never going to live on the streets,’” Ina Black said. “‘If you move to New York City and are struggling to book a job, you have your parents, we got [you] and just keep auditioning until you make it.’”

Jennifer Black said she still remembers when her daughter first showed an interest in theater after watching a production of “Les Misérables.”

“She got in my car and she was like, ‘I think I want to do this for a living,’” Jennifer Black said. “I was so excited because I actually knew how to help her get through it.”

After Ina Black told her mom how she wanted to pursue a career in theater, Jennifer Black said she started having her take voice lessons and advised her on which dance classes to take to strengthen her skill.

“I knew her dance was going to be fine. She’s always been such a strong dancer, great performer, but she needed work in other areas,” Jennifer Black said.

Now, Jennifer Black said she enjoys watching Ina dance in numbers like “Something About that Boy” and the prom scene.

“I like watching [Ina Black] dance in the prom scene. The swing dancing is cool and the lifts are just … it’s just so fun to watch,” she said.

For those interested in watching Ina perform, Jennifer Black said the musical is enjoyable for everyone, including those who may not be fans of musical theater.

“[The show] will get people that aren’t interested in the arts interested in it, and maybe it will give them an idea to see other shows,” she said.

“Back to the Future: The Musical” is currently performing at the KeyBank State Theater in Playhouse Square until July 7.

Adriana Gasiewski is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adriana Gasiewski, Staff Reporter
Adriana is a junior journalism major with minors in English and Italian. Previously, she was a staff reporter and the cultural and diversity beat reporter. Outside of KentWired, she is a web writer and the partnership coordinator for Her Campus at Kent State. She enjoys writing about the Kent community and current events. Contact her at [email protected].

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