Broadway’s Next Star

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RLHS Sophomore Amy Merritt has big dreams of performing Broadway shows in New York. Right now, she is doing everything she can to prepare for a future in show business.

Zainy Tareen, Staff Writer

Amy Merritt takes a deep breath as she stands behind the closed curtains, waiting for her part to come. Her nerves start to tighten as every minute passes, but she can’t let that stop her now. This is how she will fulfill her dreams. The dreams that she had since she was a little girl— to grow up and perform on Broadway in New York. Merritt is anxious as she looks over at the crowded seats filled with families waiting to see her perform. As time goes on and her part is about to come, she recites her lines. All of her dread and apprehension drains away as confidence fills her.

Merritt has always been confident when her part comes; she loves the way the lights shine on her. She has always been ready to show her talent and perform in theatre or on the piano. She loves playing the piano— hitting every note perfectly to make a beautiful sound. The range of tunes that pour out of the instrument makes her happy that she has chosen the piano over anything else.

Merritt is a sophomore at Round Lake High School, where she is an honors student. She contributes in RLHS by being in Woman’s Ensemble, the school’s choir team. For Merritt, it’s difficult to balance out her activites in the arts and her responsibilities at school because theatre is her passion and school would keep her away from what she loves. She stays in school because she loves to learn and make new friends.

Not many people would know that Merritt has such amazing talent. She looks like an ordinary girl with brown hair that ombres into red, and her hazel eyes are covered by glasses. She is quiet in class and only talks to her close friends. Merritt lives near downtown Round Lake with her mother, stepfather, and her little brother. But the theater has always been her second home, where her normally shy and quiet school self is filled with an astounding confidence. She grew up listening to Broadway musicals when her grandmother would take her.

“I’ve been into musical theatre for as long as I can remember,” Merritt said. “My grandma would always take me to see shows in Chicago.” Merritt’s family supports her with all of her dreams and she has been performing in many Chicago theatre productions since she was young. She believes if she auditions in small theatre productions now, she will be ready for New York.

The Wauconda Park District Theatre where she performs at has two wide stages. One of the stages is for big Broadway tours  and the other is for younger actors. The theater is huge with hundreds of seats facing the stage. Lights in every corner stand out from the intricate carvings on the walls. The whole theater is beautiful, astonishingly made.  Merritt goes to the theater every week and stays and rehearses her lines even more often if she has an upcoming show. She has done about 15 shows. So far the biggest one she has performed in is The Phantom of the Opera where she played the lead female character, Christine.

Merritt has her future planned out: she wants to get a good education in acting—either at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois or somewhere closer to her future job in New York. Merritt wants to play her dream roles in New York. “My dream roles are to play Christine Daaé in Phantom of the Opera or Katherine Plumber in Disney’s Newsies,” said Merritt.

Merritt has always admired every Broadway actor, but the one she likes the best is Sierra Boggess because of her phenomenal voice and because she plays Christine Daaé, the role Merritt wants to play one day.

Merritt’s family has been a great help when it comes to achieving her dreams. “My family supports my dream, I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” she said. They support her dream to master the piano. She has been learning to play the piano for a long time as well. She loves playing the instrument because every key has its separate sounds that make a huge range of tunes

“I chose to learn the piano because it seems like such an elegant instrument,” said Merritt. Once a week, she goes to a little loft above a music store called The Players Bench in Crystal Lake. She loves her tutor Charis Bradley because she is the best one she has ever had. Her teacher has helped her improve her piano skills by much.

Amy is supported by many of her close by friends, but her best friend Ashley Martinez has been with Merritt for a long time. Martinez is very proud of Merritt.“ Amy is a very talented musician and she has taken a lot of time out to work on her piano skills,” Martinez said.

 Merritt stands on the stage, ready and confident; this is what she has practiced for. As she starts speaking her lines, the audience gets silent and all eyes concentrate on her. Once the play is over, Merritt and her co-stars take to the stage for a final curtain call. The audience is standing and clapping wildly and Merritt realizes this is her dream that she has worked for most of her young life. Even though she is nervous in the beginning, nothing can stop Merritt when she is ready to perform.