Interesting article for the W&L and theatre friends. I didn’t realize he and multiple Tony Award Nominee Rob Ashford also went to my college, Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, VA about the same time I did….
While his fellow students at Washington and Lee University may not recognize him around campus, his fans would know Grant Aleksander immediately.
He is the actor who portrayed Phillip Spaulding on the daytime drama “Guiding Light” at different times between 1982 and 2009. He also appeared in television series and movies, including the 1986 movie “Tough Guys” with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Aleksander, 50, has now returned to W&L to complete his theater major 30 years after he left to pursue his acting career.
Aleksander said he left W&L after his sophomore year to transfer to Tisch School of the Arts at New York University because he thought that he needed to go to a big theater school. “My assumption that I needed to be in New York because that was where the work was being done was correct,” he said. “But I was wrong to think that I needed to go to a big theater school. I learned an enormous amount about acting at W&L because I got to actually do it. I was in a lot of productions here and some of them were very difficult.”
“My time at W&L was really a pivotal time for me. I met the love of my life, who was a Lexington resident at the time, during a W&L production of Hamlet (he is married to attorney and former actress Sherry Ramsey) and we’re still happily together. I have nothing but wonderful memories of my time here. Now, it’s 30 years later and I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel back here in this environment. The school feels much as it did when I was here before, although there are some new buildings such as the sororities and the Lenfest Center.”
In addition to teaching acting classes, Aleksander is also assistant director to Mish for the Stephen Sondheim musical “Assassins” to be performed at the end of October in the Lenfest Center. Mish described “Assassins” as more of an acting piece than singing and dancing. “That’s one of the reasons I really enjoy working with Grant on this. Plus, we’re getting twice as much done in a shorter amount of time,” he said. “While I’m working with one group, he can take another group aside to work with them. And the students love him. They sort of know about his career but it doesn’t faze them and he doesn’t allow it to.”
Aleksander has also paved the way for a group of students to watch a rehearsal of the revival of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” starring Daniel Radcliffe in New York City, courtesy of his friend and Tony award-winning choreographer Rob Ashford, who roomed with Grant at W&L .