wesley takes a chance on theatre

the importance of going out of your comfort zone


kevin phelan

this is me doing a split in the fall musical during the dance number “does your mother know?”

playing pepper in “mamma mia!”, the fall musical, was definitely one of the highlights of my entire high school experience. i was the charming, quirky and, most importantly, fearless pepper that at times looked like a fool on stage.

“mamma mia!” was my first ever theatre production, and it’s honestly one of the most fun activities i’ve done throughout high school. i made so many new friends and gained confidence in my stage presence.

however, deciding to audition for the musical was a spontaneous decision. in fact, i had built such a dislike for theatre that i had never envisioned myself being in the musical. the reason for this was because of a bad experience auditioning for theatre during my freshman year.

the winter show was “a midsummers night dream.” i had known the story for years, and i thought i would give theatre a shot. i grabbed an audition packet a week before auditions were held and practiced for hours on end, perfecting the audition monologue.

when the day of auditions came, i felt more prepared and ready than ever. one by one, people would go to the middle of the studio theatre and recite the monologue. i was the last person called. i confidently got up, walked to the middle of the theatre, and froze. everything i had practiced vanished in an instant.

in short, it was a mess. from then on, i vowed that i would never audition for theatre again. the embarrassment and failure i felt caused me to believe that theatre wasn’t for me. i have always been scared of attention, so it was silly for me to believe i could be brave enough to act in front of a crowd.

fast forward to three years later, when the musical for the fall was announced: “mamma mia!” (aka one of my favorite movies of all time). i knew the soundtrack and storyline by heart. i was immediately intrigued, but remembering the last time i auditioned was enough to turn me away.

when audition day arrived, i saw a massive crowd of people heading to the auditorium for the audition. amongst the crowd was a friend of mine who had never done theatre before and was in love with “mamma mia!” as much as i was. right before he stepped into the auditorium, i joined him.

i thought my audition would be redemption from the bad experience i had during my freshman year. i only had one shot, so i gave it everything i had. i walked to the stage and had a completely different experience than my audition freshman year. i danced to “dancing queen” and i remember smiling during the entire performance. i felt as if i was on top of the world. my enjoyment was clear to the directors and other auditioners, as they smiled and clapped during and after my dance.

my audition exuded confidence that i never knew i had and showed that i didn’t let my past experience define me.
this whole theatre experience made me realize that i can be fearless. i went from being scared to present in front of 30 people to acting in front of a crowd of more than 300, and i achieved something i never thought i could.

along with that, it made me respect all the opportunities around us that allow everyone to experience something new. had it not been for the musical, i would probably have my past theatre experience continue to hinder me. i became a more sure-footed person through something that i now love.

looking back, i truly regret not giving theatre another chance until my senior year. i probably will not do another production after highschool; however, i will take all the lessons it has taught me onward.