Carmel firefighter showcases unlikely talent for tap dancing

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CARMEL, Ind. – From fire boots to tap shoes, one Carmel firefighter has been putting on a different kind of outfit for the last few months.

Grant Russel always dreamed of becoming a firefighter but also grew up loving to dance. Now, more people are getting to see both passions.

Since December, he’s been preparing for his part as Don Lockwood in the musical “Singin’ in the Rain.” He said getting this part was a dream.

Theater is a huge part of his life. Both his parents were involved in it and it’s actually how he met his wife. He’s been lacing up the tap shoes since he was 4 years old.

“I can get into somebody else’s shoes and it’s interesting the different roles you can play and the different people you can be in theater,” he said.

Because of his demanding job as a firefighter, sometimes he’s been practicing his dances at the fire station. He used any spare time he could find to tap dance in the tile stairwell.

“Actually, the two other leads with me, they would come to the station and we kind of block a scene right here in the bay,” he said.

He said some rehearsals were nine hours at the theater and then he had to come to the station the next day for a 24-hour shift. He was very grateful for his supportive crew.

“Sometimes, it gets a little humdrum around here. So having somebody do a little tap dancing, working on their lines, it was different. It was nice. Breaks up the monotony,” said Bruce Frost, an engineer with the Carmel Fire Department.

Russel’s fire crew saw the musical with their wives on Sunday night after getting sneak peaks from the stairwell.

“We were very proud of what he was doing and the accomplishment he had of getting it done,” Frost said.

Russel still has four more shows at Footlite Musicals in Indianapolis. The shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday’s show is at 2:30 p.m.

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