I’ve been a musical theatre kid my whole life. Though I never wanted to make it my career, most of the music on my iPod is musical soundtracks. While other middle school girls mooned over Justin Timberlake and Adam Brody, my computer desktop boasted Christian Borle and Norbert Leo Butz. An autographed photo of Bernadette Peters hung next to my mirror. I felt certain my interest in musical theatre would be compromised by moving to the cornfields of Grinnell, and I readied myself for four years of illegal bootlegs.
I realized how wrong I was early in my second semester at Grinnell, when I learned student affairs had extra tickets to the musical Spring Awakening on its off-Broadway tour in Des Moines. Did I want to go? I nearly fell out of my chair in my rush to get to the student affairs office. As I was giving my name and e-mail to the woman behind the desk, she asked me what my plans were for spring break and handed me a bright yellow flyer.
“We’re taking a group of students to New York City to see some shows, if you’re interested. I think it’s something around five or six shows over a four-day weekend. Sound like fun?”
I was in a state of pure euphoria. Half an hour ago, I had thought I’d be a grown-up before I could see live musicals again. Now I was hip-deep in them! After some mental calculations (about $450 bucks for the whole trip), I signed up then and there. Even discount Broadway tickets can cost anywhere between $50–150, not even taking into account hotel and travel costs. Sure, the trip wasn’t free, but it might as well have been. I, a girl from Oregon, was going to have a magical, wonderful weekend for easily a third of the normal cost. And Grinnell was helping me do it!
That weekend, the good deal got even better. The ticket I had purchased for Spring Awakening turned out to be one of a dozen seated onstage. I sat not five feet away from professional actors and actresses. I could feel their energy as they did what they loved. I left the theatre misty-eyed, and I suddenly realized I was wrong—even though I was passionate about musicals, I’d always thought I could live without them. But as I watched those people work, I realized I could not live without musical theatre.
I am now trying to figure out how to pursue a career in theatre production and management, and looking forward to my spring break more every day.
Deborah Berk '12 is undeclared and from Clackamas, Oregon.