This past year has forced me into some of the most difficult challenges that I have ever faced. I’ve grown as a person, facing demanding opportunities and crippling obstacles. I’ve learned a lot about myself, discovered a community of people who support me, and still managed to survive the year.
I came into this school as a BFA Musical Theatre major, and while I did love performing in musicals, the main reason was that I wanted to sing musical theatre songs. After just a semester of college, I realized how much I loved straight theatre, and in the fall I will be a leading role in School for Scandal. In high school, my only goal for the future was to sing the songs that I wanted to sing, and now I have delved into an art form that will give me opportunities above and beyond my original aspirations. I have been incredibly blessed with so many opportunities that allowed me to stretch myself in all areas of performance.
Dance has certainly been my weakest element of the ideal triple threat (aside from comedic acting), but this past year I was able to face it head-on. For instance, I was paid to dance twice in the past year. High school me can’t even comprehend that. Not only that, but I was cast in two pieces in Fredonia Dance Ensemble. I remember walking into the FDE audition freshman year and turning pale at the thought of trying that choreography. I was able to perform in a dance theatre piece by (and with) Terry Beck, who has been such an incredible mentor to me in the past two years, whereas I am pretty sure I didn’t know the art form existed three years ago. I even served as dance captain on Chicago. In high school, I was banking on the fact that I could be hired as a pretty voice and never have to move. Now, I have one year left until the real world hits, and I’m more ready than I could have hoped for.
Littlechap. I wish it could be possible for everyone to experience a role like Littlechap in Stop the World. Everyone wishes that they could be the “leading role,” but until you face the monster in the face, you don’t really know what you’re asking for. I, for one, had always wanted to be the lead-lead-lead-lead-lead in a musical. I wanted to be Pippin or Joseph just for that reason. However, the roles of Pippin and Joseph don’t even compare to the physical, mental, and emotional taxation that Littlechap took. Physically, Littlechap only left stage around five times, and only once for more than thirty seconds, and was constantly the center of attention. Mentally, I had to memorize around a dozen songs, more than twenty-five monologues, and an insane amount of lines. Not to mention the whole acting part. Lastly, how do you think you would feel emotionally after living out a man’s unfulfilled life night after night? The final ballad, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” took everything out of me after every performance.
The role of Littlechap may have been one of the single most difficult challenges I have ever had to face, but I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it. Forcing myself to tackle something so much bigger than I am allowed me to realize that this is exactly what I want to do with my life. There were moments were I wanted to quit. There were moments were I wanted to hand in my script and give up, but I needed to be pushed to that place. I needed to be pushed to that place where I was no longer in control to realize that this was my passion.
A person can coast on praise forever. It isn’t until you know that you aren’t good enough that you will realize that you can be better than just good enough.
It was at this time that I started having certain health problems, without fully realizing it. I won’t go into the details on the internet, but I now know that I have the ability to perform the most demanding show of my life while battling one of the most difficult obstacles I have ever experienced. It isn’t every day that a person’s entire career is threatened, and that shook me. It was a rough time for me, but it reminded me that there is so much more to life than just my petty little goals. I know that I will be happy no matter how this turns out. On top of that, I know that I have the greatest support system that a guy could ask for.
When you choose your school, you are choosing your family. My mentors, my classmates, and my colleagues are not just people that I learn from and work with. They were there for me when I hit rock bottom.
I will spend this summer not at Mac-Haydn, as I had planned, but instead recovering and healing. Junior year may have faced some painful times, but a rose bush must be pruned before it can blossom. August will come, and I will be better than ever for my senior year.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”