A fading spotlight

Trading the stage for story-telling


Nina Castaneda

Lawrence [middle] performing a musical number during opening night of “Mamma Mia!” alongside her cast mates.

Claire Lawrence, Opinions Editor

It’s my senior year and we just opened the fall musical, “Mamma Mia!”. The opening night crowd was outstanding and I almost forgot how much I love standing on a stage in front of people, giving them something to sing and laugh along to. My heart fills with joy knowing the other cast members and I bring such glee to people’s lives through the art of theatre. That being said, there is also that melancholy feeling I get when I remember this is the last musical I will ever be a part of. Throughout my middle and high school years, I have put everything I had into making a good show and showing off my voice and now, it’s all coming to an end. 

 Since I was in the third grade, I’ve had it in my head I was going to become a world-renowned journalist for some incredibly successful publishing company. Despite my enthusiasm throughout these years, a little thing called theatre slowly crept its way into my life over and over again. For the past four years now, I have juggled newspaper, UIL journalism and theatre. As each month of senior year flies by, the realization my time on stage is nearing an end and emotions hit me full force. The fact that “Mamma Mia!” is my last high school production to be a part of gives me all the feels. 

 Before getting involved in theatre, writing was all I had ever known, but when I started participating in theatre during middle school, my interests completely changed and I almost left writing behind to follow the spotlight. Even though my time was occupied greatly with the many shows I did for my schools and outside companies, I never really let go of the desire to express my thoughts in the form of lyrics, poetry and stories. My freshman year I took journalism and once again writing became my first love and theatre became a beloved side project rather than something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Even though I tried to push my dreams of performing on stage away, I still considered it a possibility for my future. For months, I wrestled with the thought of leaving my dreams of being a journalist behind and attending college for musical theatre or technical stage production.

Being involved with theatre at Vandegrift since my freshman year has almost fully consumed my life at some points. I can’t begin to sum up the outside of school hours I’ve spent rehearsing and preparing for the several musicals and plays I’ve been in the past four year. I’ve spent so much time and energy on these productions that will only leave me with the memories when it’s all said and done and the final curtain falls. 

Going to school to become a journalist is all I want, no questions asked, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss the loving experiences you get when a part of the theatre community. Going to school to become a journalist will open so many new doors for me, in terms of job opportunities and learning curves. Going to school to become a journalist means leaving my love for theatre behind in order to maintain focus on the future of my career.

Going to school to become a journalist means…no more musicals. 

Sure, you might be thinking, “If you knew you were going to give it up, why hang on to it for so long?” and that’s a completely understandable statement. I stayed attached to theatre and the department here at Vandegrift because I wanted to cherish each spotlight moment I got before leaving it in the past after graduation. Not getting paid or getting enough sleep isn’t what I see when I am a part of a show or musical. I see a chance to take one of my favorite things in the world and turn it into something beautiful. Something other people can enjoy. 

By the time tomorrow rolls around and all the seniors make their speeches during the before-show circle, the realization will probably hit me full force and my emotions will take hold. But regardless of the sad connotations connected to graduating and leaving the theatre world behind, I will never forget the insane amount of opportunities I’ve had from immersing myself into the world of both an actress and a technician. 

And the biggest take away from all my experiences is this: journalism may be my calling, but theatre will always remain my passion.