A (Possibly Biased) Review of ZACH’s ‘Find Your Light’

by Kaitlin Street on May 21, 2018 in Theatre,

ZACH’s Pre-Professional Company showcase ‘Find Your Light’ was breathtaking.

ZACH’s Pre-Professional Company, also known as PPC, is an ensemble of young performers who are passionate about pursuing careers in musical theater. Now, perhaps the fact that I am a former member of PPC or that my little sister is a member of four years had something to do with why I was weeping from the moment the show started, but I was truly amazed by this particular performance.

Maddy Sparkes’ killer vocals shine in performance of ‘This Is Me.’ Photo Karla Ent

Directors Jen Young Mahlstedt and Josh Wechsler created a beautiful show framed around the individual talents of their students. ‘Find Your Light‘ took the audience through the process of what it takes to become a working performer by weaving together show-stopping dance numbers with intimate monologues and heartfelt songs.

Gracee Street and Stone Mountain dip in “Juggernaut”. Photo Karla Ent

The show highlighted the journey of the musical theater college audition process through moments of passion, hard work, rejection, disappointment, heartbreak and joy. Graduating senior Ty Bock wrote incredibly authentic and poignant scenes about the college audition process that were interwoven throughout the show’s numbers. In one scene, five of PPC’s eighteen graduating seniors lined the stage with letters and laptops in hand to reenact the glee of a college acceptance and the disappointment of a rejection. Touching moments like these accented the show. In another standout moment, Caroline Gilmore responds to a colleague’s overly enthusiastic reflection on her last audition with a sarcastic and relatable, “That’s amazing.” I must also mention Bock’s performance of a monologue from ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’ A monologue sitting in the center of a show comprised of huge dance numbers and boundless voices could easily be forgettable and even awkward, but Bock’s performance was truly gripping and beautiful.

Keaton Brandt slays his solo ‘Stand Here With Me.’ Photo Karla Ent

One of my favorite numbers in the show was ‘This Is Me‘ performed by the entire company and sung by Maddy Sparkes. The performers’ passion for their art and love for each other truly shined in this number, and Sparkes’ unstoppable voice gave me chills. Another showstopper was ‘Run Freedom, Run‘ sung by Stone Mountain. Mountain oozes stage presence and charisma, making his performances a joy to watch. By the end of his high-energy number with the PPC Elite Ensemble, I was smiling from ear to ear. I also must shout out my little sister, Gracee Street, for her absolutely rock star performance of ‘Rhiannon‘ that of course, in my opinion, stole the show.

Stone Mountain brings down the house with the Elite Ensemble in ‘Run Freedom, Run.’ Photo Karla Ent

Each and every number in this beautifully constructed show provided the audience with a different look into the lives of these passionate young performers. We saw the highs and the lows that come along with such a demanding business. It is clear after seeing the show that the kids on stage have devoted themselves completely to their art because it is what they love most in life. It is truly magical to see their years of hard work pay off in this end of the year showcase at the beautiful Topfer Theatre at ZACH. ‘Find Your Light’ showcased some of the city’s most talented young artists and told a beautiful and joyous story about the life of a performer.

Austin-based Kaitlin Street is currently the EIC Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Kaitlin attends the University of Texas at Austin and is active in the Austin theater community.

 Cover photo Karla Ent