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  • Writer's pictureMegan Richards

A Doorknob Was Literally Smarter Than Me

It might have been the hundredth time I overslept and rushed to school unkempt and un-caffeinated. It might have been the time I made a third-grader cry. Or maybe it was when the high school kids sightread their new song faster than I could. But somewhere along the way in my student teaching, I realized I did not want to be a music teacher.

I wanted to perform.

I was a fully-committed choir and colorguard nerd in high school, so at the time of this epiphany, I had three measly high school show credits to my name. (I was so green and my resume was so light that I kept those measly credits on my resume for the first several years of my professional career to beef it up a little. I just left off the part about them being high school credits.)

So, two months away from graduating college, three high school credits to my name. But for the past three years I had been in a really special music theatre ensemble. It was directed by two brilliant music theatre wizards that Waco had the dumb luck to claim as residents. As I search for words that explain the impact that experience had on me, I realize just how defining and transformative it was. It changed the trajectory of my life. It awakened me to one of my greatest passions, which fuels and energizes me no matter how worn down I am when I step onto the boards of a stage.

With little formal training, I started applying to graduate schools for music theatre performance. At the time, there were only two universities in the country with grad programs that specifically focused on music theatre performance: one in the south and one in NYC.

My audition at the college in the south came first. I remember being surprised by what came across to me as an overall aloof and chilly demeanor. The subsequent acceptance letter and offered scholarship didn’t do much to change how I’d felt in their presence.

My other audition was at New York University, Steinhardt. It took place in a small classroom with a teeny, tiny stage and piano at the front of it. Three professors sat in the room, one at the piano and the other two like pleasant, oversized school children in chair-desk combos. When they invited me to the stage to sing for them, I realized that in my enthusiasm, I’m managed to come in empty-handed, my audition book still sitting in the hall outside the room. I excused myself and walked back over to the door to let myself out and grab it. It was an old doorknob that anyone with a remotely-developed mechanical brain could have opened without a YouTube video. But that’s not my brain and I’m pretty sure YouTube didn’t exist yet, so the faculty looked on as I struggled to open an unlocked door.

Eventually I got the door open and retrieved my book. I had a lovely audition experience, with all three professors taking time to coach me and talk to me. They asked if I had any questions for them and then sent me on my merry way. My acceptance letter came shortly after.

Which university do you think I picked?

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