What have you enjoyed most about your career?
Seeing a story through from initial conception to finished product is pretty amazing. Part of the reason we started writing musicals was due to my complaining about the lack of GOOD female roles in theatre - they exist, of course, but not on the scale of the male characters. One of my goals as a writer/ performer is to create/ play REAL and interesting female characters who have as much (if not more!) dimension as their male counterparts. We try to create characters that actors will want to play and audiences will want to be, and I’m delighted to be a part of that! Plus, it’s great to leave people wowed by your work.
How did Carthage prepare you?
Before Carthage, I had only written one or two songs, and never seriously. As I took more theory and piano classes, however, along with being around music theatre every day, I found myself telling stories through songs more and more often. By the time I graduated, I had written around ten songs. Fast forward six years, and now that number is over 140. I learned how to focus, how to arrange chords creatively, how to pay attention to what the accompaniment was saying under the lyrics. I started noticing what seemed to work -and not- when it came to advertising (side note - wish I’d taken some of that marketing stuff!), what actors and directors both did during auditions that made life better or worse for the people around them, how basic costumes could be and still be perfect, and that simple choreography performed perfected trumps complicated but clunky any day. I learned to make lasting friendships, for which I’m so grateful (and not just because of the college friends I still talk to all the time - they weren’t lying when they said how important networking is!). I became a songwriter, a better musician, and a true friend out of my experience at Carthage, and my life has changed because of it.
How has your liberal arts education helped you?
When my co-writer and I finished writing our first show, “TIP$ the Musical,” in October 2013, we weren’t sure where we would go with it. A Facebook post from a local director the next day said that the deadline for the 2014 Lake Effect Fringe Festival had been extended. With a ‘why not?’ we submitted our show. To our shock/delight, the committee both accepted ‘TIP$’ and asked us if we would open the Festival…on January 30. Suddenly, we were flying forward into new territory. With little time and less resources, we found ourselves holding auditions, creating social media presences, directing, choreographing, music directing, set designing, and even acting in the show. There was no time for doubt or hesitation, so we didn’t. We just kept working. And it paid off - ‘TIP$’ was more than sold out at the Festival (even during a snowstorm), and it went on to perform a month later at the Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, MI. The Wealthy performance exists on YouTube, and it has already caused one local theatre group to acquire the rights to the show, which they produced last year. And all of this came about because we had to decide whether or not to jump - and we did.
Tips for current Carthage students:
Be fearless. Try so very many new things - some you’ll like and some you won’t and some will make you feel like you’ve found a missing piece of your soul. So try things. Weird clubs. Hard classes. Student productions. Morning yoga. Midnight astronomy meetings. You never know what could happen. Check out the collection of old Elvis movies at the library - seriously, that was a pretty cool random discovery.
Favorite Carthage memories:
Watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan - being from Michigan, I’ve never seen that before. Touring Europe with the Women’s Ensemble. Reading scripture at Christmas Fest. Playing the convert grand pianos in the chapel. Getting on stage to perform again and again. Taking Religions 100 - still one of my favorite classes. Meeting my sophomore roommate and subsequent best friend. Trying sushi for the first time - and loving it. Never knowing what paint job the Kissing Rock would have. Ordering puppy chow delivered to my room…I might miss that most of all!