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Actress holds up ‘mirror’ to life in one-woman show

Devra Gregory has performed as a Michael Jackson impersonator for nearly 15 years.
Devra Gregory has performed as a Michael Jackson impersonator for nearly 15 years.
( / Courtesy photo)

Devra Gregory is looking at the “Woman in the Mirror,” and she hopes you’ll take a look, too.

Named after Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Man in the Mirror,” Gregory’s one-woman show, “Woman in the Mirror, A Dancer’s Journey,” is about her life as a professional dancer, Michael Jackson impersonator and Wiccan priestess.

Co-written and performed by Gregory, the show runs through Dec. 21 at the Horton Grand Theatre in San Diego.

“My show is my real life story,” said Gregory, a former Encinitas resident. “It combines elements of truth with this alternate reality.”

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A San Diego native, she grew up in Chula Vista, where she got her start in ballet at age 6. Now in her mid-50s, she has worked as a Michael Jackson impersonator for nearly 15 years. It’s one of the highlights of a career that’s spanned decades and includes ballet, modern, jazz, burlesque and exotic dance.

“There aren’t too many women who are working professionally as an other-gender celebrity impersonator,” said Gregory, who found success as a Michael Jackson impersonator after working as a backup dancer in a Vegas-style celebrity impersonator show in Aruba in the late 1990s. “People are usually fascinated when I tell them my story.”

After someone suggested she write a book, Gregory decided to share her story on the stage.

“I don’t know how to write a book, but I know how to perform,” she said.

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Winner of the 2012 Bravo San Diego and 2014 Fringe Festival awards, “Woman in the Mirror, A Dancer’s Journey,” made its debut in 2012 at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center in San Diego, with successful follow-up runs at the Lyceum Theatre in 2012, San Diego Dance Theater’s Live Arts Fest and White Box Live Arts in 2013, and at the San Diego International Fringe Festival earlier this year.

Co-written and directed by Jessica Bird, the one-woman show takes theatergoers on a journey through Gregory’s professional dance career and personal challenges, blending storytelling and dance.

“At first, it was very difficult being so honest, raw and vulnerable,” Gregory recalled. “I felt naked on stage even when I wasn’t naked.

“I just learned that being so honest really helps other people be honest with themselves. So I’m stepping up to be an example for the importance of personal integrity, being honest with ourselves, and being honest with everyone we come in contact with.”

Besides chronicling her life as a dancer, the show is about her spiritual journey. Raised in a Jewish household, Gregory pulled away from Judaism as a teen and explored Eastern and New Age practices. Eventually, she found Wicca and is now a Wiccan priestess.

“I want people to be inspired to transform their own lives into something better — to take that responsibility for themselves,” Gregory said.

For information or to buy tickets, visit www.devasmj.com.


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