As a child, Jessica Azenberg was used to being around the theater. She's the daughter of a famed Broadway producer and a professional dancer. That meant a lot of time backstage at Broadway shows.
One time, Azenberg went to meet Peter Pan. Of course, it wasn't Peter Pan. It was just an actor. But to a child there was no difference. Peter Pan sprinkled her and her sister with fairy dust.
"At 3 and 4 years old," she said, "you are in shock, 'This is Peter Pan!' "
Whether it was just stage sparkles or real magic dust is beside the point. It was a moment in the theater that's stayed with her since. Moments like that added up and led to a career of her own on the stage.
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Azenberg plays secretary Miss Krumholtz and is a member of the ensemble cast in the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which ends its run May 27.
She grew up in a home where the arts were of utmost importance. Her father, Manny, produced more than 60 Broadway productions and received eight Tony Awards. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Tony Award this spring. Her mother, Lani, is a former professional dancer and stage manager.
Like most, Azenberg grew up not thinking of dad as Broadway royalty. He was just Dad. She was raised in New York City at a home where it wasn't unusual for Neil Simon to call the house. It took her a while to realize most homes don't have legendary playwrights calling.
Her parents wanted their children to be exposed to the arts, so at age 3 she started ballet. She had planned on becoming a professional dancer until attending The Boston Conservancy, where she gravitated more toward theater. She found it to be a more suitable form to showcase her personality and humor.
Since graduating with a degree in dance in 2008, she's traveled to regional theaters across the country to perform. This is her first time at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, but she has worked with the show's director, D.J. Salisbury, before. After her stay on Hilton Head Island, she returns to Massachusetts to teach at a dance workshop over the summer.
It's a constant grind of auditioning and traveling, but it's one that she's used to after growing up around the business.
"You really never know what's coming next. But that's part of the fun of it," she said. "I keep at it because I love it."