Setting the Stage

Senior to Continue Theatre Career in New York


Photo by Anthony Luparello

Singing on stage senior Brady Allen performs in “Big Fish,” where he played a lead role as Will Bloom that lead him to a nomination in the category for male leads at the Heller Awards for Young Artists. Throughout his high school experience Allen was involved in many different productions and plans to continue his career in theatre as he attends the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. “I’m really excited,” Allen said. “I think the community in New York is going to be a big change, but also really fun and inviting. I’m excited to also just focus on the arts and not really have to worry about school and be around other people who are really invested in the arts.”

Isa Morgan, Reporter

From behind the scenes in tech, to front and center playing the lead role, senior Brady Allen has worked his way to the very top in the theatre department. While he’s been involved in theatre from his middle school years throughout high school, Allen has been involved in numerous productions, landing lead roles and even high nominations for some of his parts.

Allen started his theatre career off the stage, only being involved in tech with his first production, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in sixth grade, and didn’t join his peers on stage until his seventh grade in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” only trying out for a part in the show due to a recommendation from a friend.

“I was going to do tech for the next musical, ‘Charlie Brown’,” Allen said. “Then on a whim, I got Snoopy, which was such a fun time. I got really lucky and I had a really fun group of cast and castmates to work around. [With the show] I wanted to test myself. I wanted to see how good I was because I really looked up to the people who could sing, even if the standards were lower in middle school. I kind of viewed them as way higher than I was, and I put a lot of respect to the people who were in the show so I wanted to see if I could be of any caliber to that.”

Allen credits this starting role as the one that altered his way of thinking about theatre. Introducing him to a new group of people and a new way of living, he attributes theatre to creating the person he is today.

“That unironically changed my entire life,” Allen said. “Everyone I know and everyone in my circle of people I know is either in choir or theatre or in the arts. I’ve gotten most of my personality traits from people I’ve met in those communities and most of my identity has been sprung from those kinds of activities. I was going down a rough patch at that time as well, so I would have not been a good person if it wasn’t for these people.”

Once in high school, Allen didn’t hesitate to join in on getting involved in the theatre community. With an interactive dinner show called “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” being his first opportunity in the arts, Allen says this was the main way he gained experience with a higher level of seriousness.

That unironically changed my entire life. Everyone I know and everyone in my circle of people I know is either in choir or theatre or in the arts. I’ve gotten most of my personality traits from people I’ve met in those communities and most of my identity has been sprung from those kinds of activities. I was going down a rough patch at that time as well, so I would have not been a good person if it wasn’t for these people.

— Brady Allen, 12

“It was kind of sprung up on me and they just kind of told me hey you’re in it,” Allen said. “It was called ‘Tony and Tina’s’ and it was an interactive theatre show. I was terrified [to do the show], I was scared the entire time. I was a freshman who had just turned 13 and in the show, I was dating a girl who was 18 and was ridiculously popular and out of my league. It was a very raw show. I had to act like I was drunk and dance on a senior who was a stripper and I had to do other things to another girl who was a senior. It was very eye-opening for me, but the seniors were very kind to me and let me in very easily. It was a very big learning opportunity for me to realize how theatre actually works outside of a very gated mindset where everything is mostly done for you.”

According to Allen, things were going smoothly in his fresh theatre career. It wasn’t until his sophomore year, when COVID-19 was at its peak, that his success reached its peak. During his sophomore year, there was only one show produced, due to the restrictions COVID put on the department. The show was their UIL show, “A Monster Calls” and was an overall struggle, according to Allen. With problems in motivation throughout the cast and a lack of vision for the future, the department was at an all time low, which almost pushed Allen out of the program for good.

“Sophomore year sucked,” Allen said. “We did one show and it was not my favorite. Everyone was miserable, we didn’t place, and I really thought I was too cool for all of it, I just wanted to go home during the rehearsals. But it taught me to actually appreciate things and not just try and look cool for the sake of not wanting to annoy others. I don’t think I would have gone on until I miraculously got the lead role for my junior year, but if it kept going on the way my sophomore year was going, I would have left. No one was really enjoying it in the program, we didn’t really have any vision for the program or what we wanted to do, and after a huge class of seniors left it just felt like there was no point to keep going in respect to the department.”

According to Allen things started to look up during the end of his sophomore year after landing a role as a lead in his junior year production of “Something Rotten.” This was one of the first major productions for the department after the absence due to COVID, which meant all eyes were on them to bring it to justice. Not only was a new dedication to the program introduced with this new production, but a new sense of community as a whole, Allen says.

“It was my first leading role in a musical,” Allen said. “And it was the year coming back from COVID and a lot of people’s eyes were on that show because we hadn’t done one in a while. I really enjoyed ‘Something Rotten.’ It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had with a show. It was just great being with my friends and the show, in general, was just so well written and I really like the music. Just becoming better friends with the people in the choir department as well, was great. They were all immensely talented and they showed me there were still people I could rely on and look to for advice when it came to not only singing but acting as well and when it came to such a large community that I could find a lot of different personalities it was really comforting.”

This year Allen played a lead role in the department’s production of “Big Fish” alongside junior Aidan Cox, which led them to two nominations in the male lead category for the annual Heller Awards for Young Artists. The awards are held every year for high schools across Texas and are judged on the shows they put on during their school year and then are graded on a specific rubric. The top nine scoring individuals in each category are then considered nominees and can be chosen to win their respective categories. Last year the school’s rendition of “Something Rotten” also had multiple nominations, including best production, but according to Allen, this year’s double nomination in the male lead category along with the other multiple nominations, was something to be proud of.

“I like to have some applicable thing that I can show my energy and work towards,” Allen said. “The most recent one is the Heller awards nominations, which is big. I was in a category running against 40+ other dudes in the greater Austin area and they picked nine. I mean my name was on the official Broadway website, it was pretty surreal. The last thing I got was in eighth grade for an all-star cast for the role of the father, so it’s been a while and it feels good to finally get recognition from a place that isn’t just the school, because you know at some point, compliments can only get you so far. It was hard talking to people who aren’t in theatre about HAYAs because it’s kind of hard to get across how big of a deal it is. It feels good to have something to my name because people are proud of me and people close to me are able to feel good about something. It feels good after all the hard work and long years.”

Although Allen says the department can get tense at some points, he has still had many learning opportunities over the years. According to Allen, this has also been an aid in building skills he will need in future years when he continues his work in the theatre community.

“We always learn how to work with things ourselves,” Allen said. “Which hasn’t been the best if I’m being honest, but it’s helped me mature a lot fast and taught me what I need to do not only growing up to be an actor but also pursuing being an actor. Just learning how to handle myself and the world and business-wise despite the lows. It’s helped a lot of us grow and understand our strengths and bring out the leaders in the department a lot more.”

Reflecting on his high school theatre experience, Allen’s main advice to people involved in the department, and to the rest of the underclassmen student body, doesn’t involve a stricter work schedule, but instead a tone of gratitude.

“Don’t take these opportunities for granted,” Allen said. “It can be really hard to sit through rehearsals and just not enjoy it and not really understand what it’s all for, but even if the show itself is not good, try to find something to come out of the show. Even if it’s making a friend in the show or being able to hit a higher note than you were originally, or learning how to sew, make sure you come out of every experience with something new learned. That’s really what high school is about, it’s not achievements or how many awards you can win or how many lead roles you can get or anything. We’re all still kids so you shouldn’t hold yourself to those expectations.”

With this late start, Allen has learned a lot about what it takes to be an actor. He’s had to learn quickly from his peers and learn from all of the experiences he’s had. Although it was a difficult thing for him, Allen says that it’s all been beneficial to him in the end. Through community theatre, a wide range of different types of roles and working with a diverse group of people, Allen attributes his most valuable advice to them.

“The hardest thing to learn about acting is that you need to learn how to take criticism,” Allen said. “Not personally, but as constructively as you can. People in the theatre world and people, in general, are very expressive with how they respect themselves and also very honest, so people will not hold back criticism. You also need to understand that the journey of becoming better as an actor and performer is not linear. On some days you’re going to feel really good and be able to get cast in a blockbuster movie, and some days you’re going to feel like you can’t move your body in the way you want. It’s a 50/50 you have to get through.”

This upcoming fall Allen will be continuing his acting career in New York at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. Although this is a big change from the experiences he’s had here in Cedar Park, Allen said he is excited for this new change and ready for what the future brings him.

“I’m really excited,” Allen said. “I think the community in New York is going to be a big change but also really fun and inviting. I’m excited to also just focus on the arts and not really have to worry about school and be around other people who are really invested in the arts. I’ve been to New York one time on a school trip, and it set up a really good image for me because I was able to immerse myself with the community and get a sneak peek at what’s to come.”