DMB: Tell us a little bit about your personal life, family and musical background.
Sarah: I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, where from early childhood, I was involved in a number of choirs and musical productions. I knew from a young age that I wanted to perform. I had several influential directors (Sam & Ann Doyle, Marta Force) that pushed me to strive for excellence, and challenged me to be the best I could. I am the eldest of 3, and I’m married to a wonderful man, Scott Whittemore, who is also a performer (hehe). We have two sweet dachshunds, Wilbur and Wendy, who we love to pieces!
DMB: When did you start working for Disney and how was that connection made?
Sarah: I started working for Disney in the fall of ’06. A friend of ours, McKenzie, who was performing at Disney at the time encouraged us to come and audition in Orlando. A little over a year later, Scott got a call and was offered a contract for Citizens of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, We both moved down from North Carolina and have been here ever since. A few months later, I got a call offering me a Voices of Liberty Candlelight contract.
DMB: Describe your Disney career thus far—how long have you been with Voices of Liberty?
Sarah: I have had the privilege of working for Disney for almost 10 years now. I started with Voices of Liberty in 2006 as a sub, and was hired as a full-time alto swing in 2012. I have also been involved with Disney Event Group, and various recording sessions for the parks. Recently (2015), I was cast as a “special assistant” to Winifred Sanderson in the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show, which is part of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
DMB: Who are some individuals that have been important mentors for you at Disney?
Sarah: My music director at Voices, Tony De Rosa, has played a significant role in my Disney career. His guidance and passion for performing inspires me, and helps me always strive to do my very best. Dirk Donahue, who is currently full-time with the Dapper Dans, sets an outstanding example of what it means to be not only an excellent performer, but also a devoted Walt Disney World Cast Member. Also, my fellow cast members who I perform with every day. I am constantly learning from those around me!
DMB: Describe to our readers the audition process for Voices, as well as a typical week’s schedule.
Sarah: Like most shows, there is an open call which you attend. I believe they currently have you sing 16 bars and if selected for a callback give you sides from the show to read and perhaps another song to sing. I perform 5 days a week, 7 sets a day in the Rotunda at the American Pavilion in EPCOT. Our group rehearses throughout the week, and we have brush-up rehearsals throughout the year. Voices of Liberty has a large catalog of music to maintain! 😉 Auditions are held every year for VOL.
DMB: Talk about your “friendship” with Winifred at last year’s Hocus Pocus show.
Sarah: Last year I was thrilled to be a part of the opening cast of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular show. Playing the role of Winifred Sanderson has been a dream come true! I’m looking forward to running amuck at Cinderella’s castle stage with her again this Halloween season.
DMB: Anything else you’d like to do while working for Disney? Dream role?
Sarah: I feel that Voices of Liberty really is a dream job. I would welcome any new opportunity that came my way, but I am grateful for every day I get to sing amazing arrangements for guests in the rotunda dome.
DMB: You’re also involved with a brand new group, Vocatve! Give us a little history and what you all are doing now
Sarah: Voctave is the result of a combined vision of both Jamey Ray and Tony De Rosa. We are currently working on our first Christmas album. It will be available for purchase this holiday season. We are so grateful for the positive response we’ve had and from our fans. There’s more to come, so stay tuned!
DMB: Favorite thing to do at the parks when you’re not working?
Sarah: My favorite place on property is the Polynesian Resort. It’s my happy place! I also enjoy just walking around the parks, as they all have their own unique charm. I have to say my favorite ride is Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is truly a magical place to work!
DMB: Sarah, thanks so much for your time, and now, you probably need to get back to helping out Winifred Sanderson!
(Voctave photo courtesy Doug Jackson)