Texas Tech University

The First of Many

Evan Price

September 17, 2019

"There is one cloud outside and it is raining out of that cloud," chimed in Maddie Bryan. This was the first of many keen and humorous observations from the Musical Theatre senior. We had a delightful chat about the new building, the expanding Musical Theatre program, and her future.

Our voices reverberated and mixed with the passing conversations of students and faculty, already getting accustomed to the spacious, sparkling-white new lobby, not yet replete with art. The generous new theatre was a "cherry on top" of her decision to attend Texas Tech, although she wishes should could have more time to experience it. Maddie tells me, "I'm one semester ahead, so I graduate in December. I started here in Fall of 2016?" She laughs, "I've learned so much new stuff that I'm starting to forget old details."

This past summer she was involved in the Acting Apprenticeship program at Williamstown Theatre Festival, following Matt Cubillos last year: a group of 70 young performers who worked as crew members for the theatre's major productions, while also creating performing opportunities for themselves.

"The second day of the festival, I auditioned and was cast in the Late Night Cabaret, where 13 of us earned the opportunity to sing with artists such as Thomas Sadoski, Priscilla Lopez, Nicole Villamil, Jessica Hect, Jane Kaczmarack, and more. I even sang and played the saxophone for Jesse Tyler Ferguson, from Modern Family, who performed a popular Taylor Swift mashup. The coolest thing I did this summer, however, was sing "Mean" with Amanda Seyfried (Karen in Mean Girls the movie, also Mama Mia) and Ashley Park (Gretchen in Mean Girls on Broadway). Not only did I perform and work crews for shows (some shifts starting at 4am!), but I was also given opportunities to choreograph dances, participate in new play and musical readings, explore playwriting, work front of house shifts, attend workshops and classes, and practice my auditioning skills. It is safe to say I was never bored!"

Maddie Bryan will be the first student at Texas Tech to graduate from the Musical Theatre program. She explained that when the program was introduced, there were sophomores and juniors who switched over to it, but she was among the first of the that inaugural year. Now, a few years later, her graduation marks a unique moment for TTU and a successful "proof of program" for the School.

"It's only the program's third year, and what we've already accomplished is pretty incredible," Maddie remarks. "We had a voice and dance focus, just like you'd expect in any reputable program, but I felt that I got the same level of acting training as any BFA.

"I may have been skeptical about joining a brand-new program, but I wouldn't have gotten the travel opportunities anywhere else that I got here. The School felt the need to show off their new MT students." Deciding she wasn't quite ready for the Big Apple, Maddie elected to stay in her hometown of Lubbock. She also told me that she felt at home due to the faculty's ability to engage with her on a personal level. "The opportunities and individuality of Tech appealed to me more than the cookie-cutter formula of some larger schools. Also, my family can easily get me food."

Maddie revealed that she has already recommended Texas Tech to others and elaborated on her reasoning. "The Musical Theatre program had twelve people when it started. It's growing, but it's still small and personalized. The professors and staff work with us on an individual level. There's no comparison to be made between me now and me back then; I'm a better singer, actor, leader. I feel like I can step up to leadership positions, like maybe a dance captain, because they've taught us how professional theatre life works."

Maddie Bryan is currently the assistant choreographer for Doctor Love, working under Kyla Olson. Hoping to be a professional choreographer in the future, she has relished the opportunity to learn how she teaches and can relate to the cast members. When asked if there is a specific moment or scene that we should look forward to in Doctor Love, she told me, "The Turtle Joust. It's so funny to me that one day during rehearsal, someone just came up with an idea that has morphed into something so much greater. And it was the first of many. Something so grand can come from a small idea."

Following graduation, Maddie hopes to utilize the professional connections she has made in her TTU travels and make it to New York City, having been prepared by the new Musical Theatre program. Surely, she will be the first of many.