Monday, June 7, 2010

High School

This latest entry is by the wonderful Jen Brozenske. She works in all aspects of theater, but here at MT, we know her best as a tech-savvy webmaster, an excellent voice-over artist (last heard in Over the Tavern), and an actress. Here is the story of how she found Montgomery Theater. . .

In 1995 at the tender age of 17, I joined Montgomery Theater because of a dare.
I had been involved in music and theater throughout my school years, but I wasn’t what you would call a “theater geek”. I didn’t join the Theater Club, but I was a member of the school chorus. I loved to perform in concerts, and once a year we had our own musical apart from the theater group. Whether we were rehearsing, building sets, or painting, I loved it all.
The most popular kids in school were also in my choir class. I, however, wasn’t popular. In fact, I don’t really know what you would have call me. I was weird, I had odd friends, and I was actually a very talented singer. All these things made me stand out in a not-so-good way. I was teased on a nearly daily basis, so my self-esteem wasn’t really that high. But that was going to change.
One day after the bell rang, I was called over by the ringleader. Seems there was an audition posted on the choir board. Jesus Christ Superstar at this place called Montgomery Theater Project. He said, “We’re all going to audition. Are you?” I was trapped. I had been fighting these people for years, always trying to get a leading role but always relegated to the chorus. Every time I fought for a solo, one of them got it instead. They were the Regional/State champs, and I was just the class freak. What else could I say? “Yeah! I’m gonna go, too,” I said defiantly as they sniggered. “We’ll see you there,” he called after me. It wasn’t until I was walking away, shaking with fear, that I realized I had never done any theater outside of school. I didn’t even know this show or where the theater was. I. Was. Toast.
Toast I might be, but I was also determined. I had been passed over so many times in school. I wanted a chance to show my stuff outside the bias of my choir classroom. I knew I was good; I just needed someone else to recognize it. So I prepared as best I could, and I drove myself to that fateful audition. As I walked inside, my heart sank. No one from school was there. None of them had shown up. They had convinced me to come to this place, and now I was all alone and probably about to embarrass myself terribly. It was all just a trick, or so I thought in my overdramatic teenage brain. But I was there now, and I wasn’t going to back out.
I literally had no idea what I was doing. This was my first audition outside of school. I sat in the dark and watched everyone else. I noticed what they did, and I figured I should just copy them. I sang one of the only pieces I knew from a musical, “On My Own” from Les Mis. I started moving around the stage, gesticulating when it felt right, and then the director stopped me. He actually said, “Stop!” I froze terrified. I screwed up! I offended! I was BAD! “I don’t like you walking around. It doesn’t feel right,” he said. After searching, he put down a stool and said, “Sit here.” I just stood there. “Ok, start from the beginning.” So I did.

I got through the first and second verses okay, but then my brain quit. I blanked, and I stopped singing completely. I sat there, quiet as a mouse, waiting for my brain to kick in. I had missed two lines. By the third I was back up and running, but my confidence was shot. I started to cry while I was singing. Not crazy-hysterical-crying, just silent-tears-running-down-your-face-crying. I was sure that I had sealed my fate. I finished up, and without any ceremony or delay, we moved onto the dance portion. Since I was sure I had already blown my chances at a role, I gave it everything I had left. We finished up, and I went home dejected.
Several days later, I received a call from a Mr. Thomas Quinn. He was the person who had interrupted me, and he wanted to discuss my conflicts. I stammered that I would cancel anything that was a problem, that I would move everything to another day if only he would cast me. Mr. Quinn said, “Oh no, I want to cast you. I just want to make sure I have the right dates.” What? I . . . I was cast? WOOHOO!
I went back to school with my head held high. When I was confronted by the alpha group, I told them boldly that I had gone to the audition, and I had been given a part. They were somewhat stunned, but I felt great. Some of them even came to see the show, and I owed it all to one Mr. Tom Quinn.

What I learned during JCS, I can never fully explain. So many wonderful things happened. The years have flown by, and I’ve been able to wear many hats beside just “Actor”. I’ve gained knowledge and experience that have helped me grow as an artist. I’ve made contacts that would connect me to a whole world outside my comfort zone. But best of all, it led to half a lifetime of great friends and shows.
So, come to Montgomery Theater. I dare you.