Jen Brown

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Following my Dream

Posted: Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Hi there! I’m Katrina, or Kat to some, and you may recognize me from my latest appearance on the stage or from Bob Evans where I host on the weekends. Awhile back, I happened upon Viktor E. Frankl’s statement, “The meaning of life is to give life meaning”. This philosophy resonated with me because, for as long as I can remember, performing gave my life meaning. Even as a little girl, when my parents would take me to Frosty Cup for breakfast, I ended up bouncing table to table, singing “The Red, Red Robin”; sometimes my “audience” would give me quarters to spend on the gum ball machine! It’s no surprise that all these years later I’d pursue musical theater in New York City. Years of hard work and dedication payed off when I was accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy's conservatory program, where I will eventually get my Bachelor's of Fine Arts in order to make a living while fulfilling my purpose.
People often misunderstand my motives as an aspiring entertainer. I am not doing this for the “glamorous” life or the chance at making a big break. On the lifestyle will be characterized by sacrifice, intensive training, heavy budgeting, and countless auditions. However, I will have the privilege of inspiring people with who I really am; sharing my talent, hard work, creativity, and life experiences with the hope of evoking emotions and connecting with the audience. With all that said, I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s why I’ve crammed in as many things as possible to help me achieve the lifestyle of a performer.
After several years of middle school choir and private voice lessons, I became a member of the CHS Honors Choir as a freshman. That same fall, I joined the Drama Club, where I understudied the leading female role in Dracula. Hours before the show, the lead had a family crisis and I ended up going on. After a brief mental breakdown, I successfully filled in and got my first taste of the spotlight. From there, I played Amaryllis in the Music Man, Little Red Riding Hood/Rapunzel in Grimm Brothers Spectaculathon, a bellydancer in Aida, and Deirdre in I Hate Hamlet. In addition, I joined the Footlighters community where I was Allana in The Little Mermaid Jr., Elvira in Blithe Spirit, and Cinderella in Into the Woods. With every show, every role, and every director, I learned something new about myself and my craft. Best of all, every time I got off that stage, someone from the audience would thank me for making bringing them joy.
My training extended throughout the summers, when I attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp four years in a row for intensive technique classes. Blue Lake opened my eyes to the possibility of having a career in the arts. Thought it wasn’t until my final year of camp, I discovered my passion for dance there. One of the directors took me aside and asked how long I had been dancing; she was shocked to find out that my dance career consisted of a few “Mommy and Me” ballet classes and brief barre work when I was a competitive figure skater (for the sake of muscle conditioning). Regardless of my inexperience and personal fear of dancing, she gave me a featured solo in the final presentation. When I got back from camp that year, my mother took me to the Landing Dance Academy and signed me up for classes….since then, I’ve crammed in 5 classes a week on top of my already busy rehearsal and school schedule.
With a strong foundation of acting, singing, and dancing in my toolbox, I took on the Big-Bad-Apple this past summer at AMDA’s high school summer conservatory. I heard about AMDA when I was in NYC on spring break several years ago. I struck up a conversation with an alumni while shopping at the American Eagle on Times Square. They told me about the professional staff, great location/set up, and the intensive classes. My heart was set on attending college somewhere in the city, so getting the inside scoop on this school was just what I wanted. The following spring break I auditioned for their summer program and toured several other schools; AMDA’s philosophy and curriculum stood out from the others. Last summer when I got to live in the dorms, attend the classes, and officially audition for a spot in their program, the stars aligned; everything felt right.
The conservatory approach is unique because it tailors the curriculum to the needs of a performer. For example, instead of taking a standard english/literature class, I will fulfill my credit hours analyzing the structure of classic musicals and work towards composing my own original work; instead of general science classes, I will learn about the anatomy of a dancer’s body and nutrition; higher level math classes are replaced with personal finance/budgeting with irregular income. AMDA gives its students the tools they need to be successful in the real world while they obtain their degree. I can’t wait to start classes and continue improving.
But before I embark on my AMDA adventure, I’ll be starring as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde! Performances are March 9, 10, and 11th at 7pm (matinee at 3, Saturday the 11th) in the Cadillac High School Auditorium. My high school career couldn't end on a better note. I'd love to see the auditorium filled with people looking for a good laugh...this high energy show is sure to deliver. Come out and support your local artists!
Finally, i’d like to say my thank yous. I have been fortunate enough to have a strong support system of teachers, directors, and-most of all-my mother. These people have built me up, broken me down, and kept me in line throughout the years. Who's to say where the journey will end, as long as it’s a meaningful one, I’ll be happy.