To The Musical Theater Kid who isn't Pursuing A BFA In College

To The Musical Theater Kid who isn't Pursuing A BFA In College

It's okay to follow a different path.

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Even for people who eat, sleep, and breathe performing, the college audition process is grueling and stressful. It is painful, comes with a lot of rejection, and no one should be forced into it. Whether the high school senior is not ready to take the next step in theater quite yet, or he or she is simply uninterested in the major, pursuing a BFA is not always the right decision for everyone.

Unique to this industry, it is possible and common to work professionally at a young age. Because of this, some kids don't realize they can choose to chase other dreams as they become adults. Many people expect young performers to continue performing forever. As someone who no longer auditions on a regular basis, I am constantly questioned on the topic. Adults who have watched me grow up doing shows want to know why I just "gave it up."

The answer is that I didn't "give it up," rather I decided to follow other paths in my life.

When it came time to apply for college, I was approached with the decision whether or not to audition for BFA musical theater programs. Almost all of my friends from the industry were planning to do so, but I needed to decide if it was the right choice for me personally.

After thinking about what I wanted my college career to look like, I determined that I wanted things other than dance studios and voice practice rooms every day for 4 years. I knew I wanted to join a sorority and have free time to enjoy college life, and I knew those activities would be quite difficult if I chose to pursue musical theater.

For once I decided I wanted to be "normal," and being a "musical theater kid" is anything but that. I decided that in college, I didn't want to have to constantly reject invitations to social events due to rehearsals and lessons as I had done throughout my whole life prior. This isn't to say it is absolutely impossible to have a social life while studying performing arts, but it is significantly more difficult to hang out with anyone who is not in your program. There is nothing wrong with that, but I decided I wanted something different.

I strongly support all of my friends who are in BFA programs at their colleges, and I have absolutely nothing against the programs. Studying musical theater can be a dream come true for some, but I knew it wouldn't be for me.

I also know that there are other kids like me who need to know that a BFA in MT isn't the only option; it's a great option, but it's not the only one.

Every day I feel lucky to have had the childhood I did in the vibrant world of musical theater; the experiences prepared me for so much more than just performing, and I carry the lessons with me everywhere I go. I am thankful that theater has played such a large role in my life, but I am also relieved I knew when it was time to take a step back.

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The 11 Most Meaningful 'Dear Evan Hansen' Quotes

Eleven of my favorite quotes from the new musical "Dear Evan Hansen" that changed my perspective after seeing the musical live.
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The new musical Dear Evan Hansen, showing on Broadway's Music Box Theater is a suprisingly uplifting story about a boy who kills himself, and the star of the show (Evan Hansen played by Ben Platt) getting caught up in a messy lie, pretending to be best friends with the boy who took his life.

The story, however, is much more than one of sadness or suicide. It is one of love, the unconditional kind and the kind that you find yourself falling into. It is a story of friendship and forgiveness and owning up to your mistakes. But most importantly it is a story of accepting yourself and becoming confident in your own skin.

I was given the opportunity to see Dear Evan Hansen live on Broadway, and after hearing the songs live, the lyrics gave me a whole new meaning than when I would listen to them in my room through my headphones.

1. "I've learned to slam on the break, before I even turn the key."

Coming from the first song that was released off of the soundtrack "Waving Through a Window," this line helps charactarize Evan as anxious and nervous during interactions with others. Hitting the brake while starting a car is not necessary for it to start, but he creates this metaphor by saying he takes extra and unnecessary cautions before entering any seemingly simple and easy situation. As Evan is characterized, the audience or the listeners are able to connect better to him and to the story because more people than we may know must go through anxious thoughts and actions, that can be very difficult to live with.

2. "No one should stick it out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here."

"Dissappear," a song sung by Evan and his two friends as a proposal to Connor's (boy who committed suicide and was presumably best friends with Evan) parents about a project they are beginning to keep Connor's legacy alive, is a straightforward remark that "no one deserves to dissappear." This quote recognizes the struggles that many people face of hiding their struggles and not doing anything to fix them because they think it would be easier to hide it. It recognizes that people should not have to do this, and it is a request for people who are going through the things that Connor did to reach out and tell people that they are struggling, because it really does get better and asking for help is the first step.

3. "It takes a little patience, takes a little time. A little perseverance and a little uphill climb."

I believe this quote can relate to many things. It is a duet sung by Connor's father and Evan, titled "To Break in A Glove." Though it is literally talking about the correct way to break in a baseball glove, it can also be talking about parenting, school, or recovery from depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorders that can be consuming. Connor's dad was not anything of a prime parent to Connor, and this quote can mean that parenting a kid to your full potential takes patience and time. School, another big struggle in Evan's life as well as Connor's, takes patience but as does the most consuming and memorable aspect that the musical is addressing: overcoming depression and anxiety so that it does not consume you and lead to the decision that Connor ended up making. Though it may seem like a neverending cycle of depressing thoughts, to overcome them it takes patience and perseverance, much like any other accomplishment.

4. "Even when the dark comes crashing through, and when you need a friend to carry you, when you're broken on the ground you will be found."

From what is most definitely my favorite song from the soundtrack, "You Will Be Found" addresses the fact that so many people feel alone and feel as though Connor did. This line shows that even though you may feel alone and you may be at your darkest, deepest point, there will always be help and support and someone to care for you. You are not alone.

5. "I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts, pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am."

The line from "Words Fail" shows Evan at his most vulnerable. It shows the side of him that he wishes no one to witness because it is his worst side. I find this song to be the most emotional, and most importantly because the lyrics can be related to so well. With depression and anxiety, people can act out and do things as they see fit to make themselves feel better, which is partly what Evan did, pretending to be Connor's friend. This quote shows the reasons behind those actions, helping people in the same position feel relieved for the things that they think are going wrong only for them.

6. "When you're falling in a forest and there's nobody around do you evern really crash or even make a sound?"

This line is another from "Waving Through a Window" and ties to Evan's anxiety as well. It shows the slow deterioration of one's mind, and how no one even notices when someone is going through things like that, hence the metaphor to the tree falling in a forest and no one hearing it because no one is there. It is making a notion to the fact, also, that people are so afraid to discuss the issues of suicide and depression and anxiety, and that it is a problem especially among youth.

7. "Why should I play the grieving girl and lie saying that I miss you and that my world has gone dark without your light?"

This line from "Requiem," sung by Connor's sister and parents, is a different perspective of what happened to Connor, a more cynical perspective. While it may seem insensitive, I enjoy that Zoe (Connor's sister) stands her ground with her relationship with her brother and remains indifferent, instead of lying about loving him just because she isn't able to anymore.

8. "If I could tell her how she's everything to me, but we're a million worlds apart and I don't know how I would even start."

Although this is about how Evan feels about Zoe - not Connor - it shows how crippling it can be to wish you could be able to tell someone something, especially about your mental disablities, but you feel like you can't because you aren't close enough or don't know where to begin.

9. "So you got what you always wanted, so you got your dream come true, good for you."

This song is a turning point in the musical where Evan's actions begin to creep back up on him. It shows that even though you get what you wish for, it isni't always perfect all together. This line shows also that what you first think you want isn't always going to lead to the perfect life or the perfect girl or the perfect family, and you must not face your struggles with lies as Evan did.

10. "Your mom isn't going anywhere your mom is staying right here no matter what, I'll be here."

This comes from the song "So Big/So Small," when Evan apoligizes to his mother about abandoning her essentially for Connor's parents and she confesses to the hardships she has faced as a single mother who doesn't make much money. This is one of my favorite quotes, because it displays unconditional love from your family, and shows that no matter what it is you go through and no matter how much loathe you may feel for yourself, your family loves you and supports you.

11. "Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a great day and here's why: because today at least you're you and, well, that's enough."

These opening words to the finale close up the message of the show: that you are enough, no matter what anyone tells you and no matter what you begin to tell yourself. Making mistakes is human, as is having depression or anxiety, and just because you make mistakes or you have depressed thoughts does not mean that you are any less of a person than someone who doesn't feel the same as you. This musical and this line taught me that no matter what, you are wanted, you are needed, and you are worth it no matter what you do or what you go through.

Cover Image Credit: Dear Evan Hansen Official Website

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10 Musicals I'll Always Love For Changing Me As A Person

I'll forever love these shows for being in my life.

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Ever since freshman year of high school, theater has been a part of my life. I saw my first musical as a freshman and immediately fell in love with everything: the music, the costumes, the stories...all of it. I finally got to participate when I hit junior year of high school, and it's been a prevalent part of my life ever since.

I can easily say that theater has shaped my life and helped me grow as a person. Whether it was through certain shows or experiences of participating in local theater, my life has been forever changed by the profound beauty that is the magic of the stage. It also helps that I've been dating an actor for three years who's constantly doing productions. Thanks to him, I've learned about so many shows, went out for some, and seen countless productions.

(Thank you to to my friend and former castmate for tagging me in the "10 day musicals" challenge, which inspired this article!)

1. Thoroughly Modern Millie

The show that began it all. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" was the musical I saw my freshman year of high school, and I loved it all. The soundtrack was my first ever theater-related purchase, and the first full soundtrack I would listen to. I still know many of the words to my favorite songs, like "Not for the Life of Me!"

2. Newsies

This was an accidental love. I picked up the soundtrack at my library, if for no other reason than I saw Disney on the top of the album and was curious. BEST DECISION EVER. I became obsessed with a show I had never seen, purely through the music. Something about the fire and passion in the music drew me in. And oh my god, the choreography for this musical is absolutely insane. I've watched the recorded performance on Netflix several times, and every time still sends a thrill through me. I've been using "Watch What Happens" as an audition song for a few years now, and it's been interesting to hear my voice change and stretch to hit certain notes better, to hear the confidence grow as I sing it more often.

3. Heathers

This show has a banging soundtrack (which is finally all on Spotify). But more importantly, I met some of my good friends through this show, when my boyfriend played Ram Sweeney in a local production. I bonded with some of the cast mates, who I'm honestly still surprised to call my friends. As someone who hasn't always had people stick around when distance arises, it's startling to say the least. Heathers isn't just an awesome rock musical for me; it now also has a special meaning. (I also really want to play Veronica someday.)

4. Spring Awakening

A former friend introduced me to Spring Awakening as a high school senior. The next year, I got to watch the whole show in a theater class and read the script. Something about this show just has stuck with me, even now.

Part of it was "Touch Me:" being young and discovering your sexuality, becoming involved in sexual behavior, as someone who had never been comfortable with herself in that sense. It was how Melchior refused to swallow everything the church and society claimed was true, as someone grew up second guessing her childhood religion, who couldn't accept everything my religion claimed as the right way to live and be. There's so much within this one show that's so important, I could write a whole different piece on it.

5. Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can was the first non-high school production I did, the summer I graduated. I had a blast building up my dancing skills (it's a seriously dance-heavy musical), learning more about my vocal range, and getting to do a show with a wonderful group of people.

But most importantly, I began dating the love of my life thanks to this musical. After meeting a year before and neither of us getting up the courage to speak with the other, I miraculously got a second chance with someone I had only dreamed about being with. And somehow I haven't screwed that up yet, three years later. (Okay lovey mushy moment over, for those of you who are gagging *side eye at my mom.*)

6. The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid at Cockpit in Court, MD, summer 2018

I was in a production of The Little Mermaid this summer, and it changed me so much. (Peep me all the way in the back right corner!) Before auditioning, I had gone to several auditions with no results--and completely bombed the last one. I lost all faith in my talents, lost my confidence. To be honest, the biggest reason I was able to make it through the Mermaid audition was because I had just begun taking antidepressants that tamped down the intense anxiety I used to have over auditioning. So imagine my shock when I got the email offering me a place in the ensemble!

This summer was one of growth. Being in this show gave me back my confidence and changed my perceptions of my talents. I made friends with insanely talented people who made me feel welcomed and accepted as myself. I got to work with some awesome creative people. So a quick thank you to the amazing cast and creative team who helped me get back to a better place. (Definitely expect me to go into more depth in another piece!)

7. Spamalot

Spamalot was the first non-high school show I worked on, albeit behind the scenes on tech crew. It's also the only show I've gotten to do so far with my talented mother, blessed be her for passing on her talents.

8. Shrek the Musical

Yes, there's a Shrek musical. (And it's hilarious, so go watch it on Netflix.) Shrek was the first show I ever got involved in, running around on tech crew. I developed a love and respect for tech, and got my first taste of being in theater. I still listen to the songs from this show regularly--and you can bet I still know every word!

9. RENT

Rent was another early musical for me. I watched the movie on Netflix and fell in love. My boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the Rent tour last Christmas, and getting to see the show live amazing experience. It didn't matter that I was seated in nosebleed--getting to see a beloved show live was everything I needed. "Out Tonight" has become one of my favorite songs to blast when I need an extra boost of confidence--and it's fun as hell to sing, too!

10. American Idiot

Another case of hearing the soundtrack before anything else. But I should also mention the fact that I heard the Broadway soundtrack before I ever listened to the original Green Day songs. I may or may not have been unaware that I accidentally grabbed the Broadway album and not the original album...but hey, bonus for me because the Broadway renditions are awesome. I'm still in love with "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and Rebecca Naomi Jones belting out "Letterbomb"--another song I blast for confidence. Whatshername is a dream role...once I get better at belting and singing, of course!

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