One More Applause


Nina Colella

It is no secret that a high school’s prestige can be greatly influenced by its’ athletic accomplishments. Students around the country are honored for their athletic ability through ceremonies, awards, and admission into colleges as early as sophomore year. But what many schools have failed to recognize are the stars on the stage in their very own building.

Adèle Marie-Alix Guth, Hunter LaPlante, Marius Pearson, and Morgan Zeidman are graduating seniors at Shawnee High School in Medford. Each of them has been through vigorous audition processes and tireless training with the hope that their outstanding talent will be recognized. I am enthusiastic to report that each of these talented students’ hard work has paid off with their acceptance into musical theatre programs with as few as 15 people in their graduating class. Although the lives of performers may at glance seem shiny and perfect, these four have undoubtedly gone to great lengths to secure their places in these colleges and their hard work is far from finished.

The application process for a musical theatre major is quite different than the traditional route. “You have to apply to at least 20 schools or more because they only take classes of around 12 to 20 people,” says Marius Pearson who will be attending Baldwin Wallace University this upcoming fall. Some students may even apply to up to 30 schools in hopes that they get into just one. “I started out applying academically for my schools; the same process as everyone else…Additionally, you have to submit prescreens, which I started preparing for the end of my sophomore year” says Morgan Zeidman who will be attending Point Park University. Pearson describes what these “prescreens entail”. “You have to send in videos of yourself doing a monologue, dance, songs, and a wild card, which is to showcase a talent of your choice.” Much work is put into each of these pieces that the students will eventually submit to their schools. Once they have submitted their prescreens, there is still more to accomplish. It is only phase I of the rigorous application process. You then must be invited back by the school to audition on campus. “It was really nerve-racking. I started in November and ended in February, so it was a long time of mentally feeling like you have to be perfect. It was 2 minutes you are based on,” says Zeidman. Some students spend years preparing their audition pieces only for them to step in the room for a mere 90 seconds and be told that they have heard enough. The entire process is both luck and talent based with even the most talented of students being rejected from schools. “At the end of your audition, you had to be prepared for them to ask you to do anything else or change something. I know I sang a song about murdering a husband and they asked me to do it again with a smile on my face the whole time” adds Zeidman. From submitting transcripts to filming prescreens, to 90-second auditions, and finally the potential for a crazy request, it is clear that this process requires grit and stamina…equally as much (or even more) as what is seen on the football field.

Although these students were able to put on bright smiles through their stressful auditions, it is not to say that they did not struggle. Hunter LaPlante, who will be attending ADMA, describes what hindered her most of all through her journey. “I feel in a way that we are always our own worst enemy and this process definitely helped me realize this fact. It is a grueling process and perfection simply cannot be achieved.” Hunter is certainly not alone in this feeling of self-doubt. “I mean you have thousands of people auditioning for these schools and they only pick around 12. You feel discouraged when people around you tell you that they passed their prescreen or got into a school and it makes you question if you are enough and if it is all worth it. It makes you ask yourself if you choose the right career” says Pearson. “There were times where I would hear a no and I would base it on my talent or think to myself ‘God, I am not good enough, maybe I shouldn’t do this’” adds Zeidman. Self-doubt is amongst the many struggles that performers face when choosing to pursue their passion. For Adèle Marie-Alix Guth, who will be attending Oklahoma City University, the feeling of support was dim. “Not everyone supports the dream that you have for yourself and you have to fight for what you want to do. There are also a lot of instances where some people are more financially privileged and can afford a lot of coaches, which not everyone can. These people can provide you with a lot of support and that is really important.” In Adèle’s case, she did not have a college prep coach and thus lacked some of the support that others did. Morgan discusses what it was to be so vulnerable in front of the admission directors and auditioners and then be told something you treaded hearing. “You have to be so open to yourself and so willing to do absolutely anything, talk about absolutely anything, even bring up trauma in these audition rooms, and then you are told ‘no’.”

If this process is so grueling, why do it? With every reason to not pursue this career, these students gave 10 reasons why they should. Their passion for the arts was overwhelming and it became abundantly clear that they were meant to be performers. Hearing about their stories and how music has guided them brought tears to my eyes. It is a beautiful thing to be as dedicated to their field as these individuals are. When asked why they chose to follow their passion for performing arts, these were their responses:

“To put it simply, I chose this direction in life because I could not imagine myself doing anything else in life, truly. It is my home. And being without it would like being without air.” – Hunter LaPlante

“Honestly, it comes down to the fact that I do not want to do anything else with my life but make art. I could not do anything else with my life, I would not be happy. Singing is my greatest passion. Music has been the one constant in my life.” – Adèle Marie-Alix Guth

“When I was little, I decided to do my first show. It was the first time I stopped worrying. It made me feel like a human again. I think that I was born to do this.” – Morgan Zeidman

“I feel like the visual and performing arts is something that you can speak freely to and I feel like it is something that is very much of your own.” – Marius Pearson

But what got them through this process most of all were those who supported them every step of the way. “I could not do this without my family bringing me back and forth to auditions. But in this kind of process, my biggest supporter was myself. I had to show up for myself and keep pushing. I had to remind myself that this is what I want for myself and I could not let other people hinder me in achieving my goals” says Adèle. “I am going to say that my mom has been my biggest supporter, she literally drove me around the entire northeast auditioning for colleges. She has always believed in me from the very start. She has been both my mom and dad because I have not had a father figure in my life. She is the best person to exist” says Marius. “I could not have done this process without my mother. She did everything. She would pack my audition bag for me. She would make sure I had everything and make sure that my music was all labeled, she would do everything for me. She traveled with me and sometimes even went back to the same place with Connor [Morgan’s brother]. I cannot thank her enough for that” says Morgan. “My biggest supporter is definitely my family. They have always believed in me and it is definitely a benefit to be surrounded by people who want to see you succeed and do what you love to do” says Hunter.

For certain, these five incredible individuals could not have succeeded without the support from their own selves. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to push through the abundance of self-doubt, months of auditioning, and everything in between. With this amount of passion, I have no doubt that they will succeed in all of their endeavors. Congratulations Adele, Hunter, Marius, Morgan, and Connor. You all deserve a standing ovation.