Even though she's from Fort Worth originally, when actress Simone Gundy wrapped up a contract performing on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in 2014, she made her way to the Bayou City.
"I have always had family here," she tells Houstonia. "So Houston was already a second home and turned out to be an amazing move, not only professionally but personally as well."
Gundy is starring in Theatre Under The Stars' (TUTS) production of Sister Act at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The musical is based on the beloved 1990s movie of the same name, where a lounge singer named Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) witnesses a murder and disguises herself as a nun to avoid the mob. While installed at a convent she upends its rhythms, clashing with the mother superior and ultimately discovering she has gifts to share.
Those plot points have made their way into the stage show, although the musical swaps out mob bosses for a sinister nightclub owner and his goons.
"All my life I have been outspoken and animated and had a love for laughter. Deloris embodies what it means to be yourself," says Gundy.
"Being yourself doesn’t protect you from insecurities, or even failures, but it gives you a place of peace to retreat to when those things happen. Deloris is a woman who, through every twist and turn, still stays true to herself, because she can’t help it; she doesn’t know how to be anything else, and sometimes that is a lonely place. But, with all those quirks, she thinks she has what the people around her love about her, and I can definitely identify with that!"
Born in 1990, Gundy was bitten by the theater bug at 15, performing in her high school production of "Once on This Island" as TiMoune. After her performance was nominated for a Betty Buckley Award, she went on to travel the world, singing with artists like Todrick Hall on his Oz tour.
Gundy's musical influences include Whitney Houston, Anita Baker and Celine Dion. She has performed at Fort Worth's historic Bass Performance Hall and Casa Mañana Theatre, as well as hitting the sea with Royal Caribbean, singing four nights a week in lounge and theater acts. Then, there was her appearance in season 11 of NBC's "The Voice” in 2016, where judge Miley Cyrus praised her performance.
Houston audiences will recognize her from TUTS' production of MEMPHIS in the role of Felicia Ferrel, Addaperle in "The Wiz" and Deb in "Elf." She's also performed with Music Box Theater, headlined the Houston Thanksgiving parade and the Mayor's Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Gundy has sung with the Houston Symphony and she's also been a member of the band Drywater for the last four years.
"Since moving to Houston, I have made more of an impact professionally in a short amount of time," she says. "It has been nothing short of a dream."