By Riya Mirchandaney
In her academic career so far, cheery junior Lauren Smith has missed a grand total of two school productions. Her first exposure to theater was at the Sacred Heart “half show/ half play” gala, which Smith auditioned for because, as she wisely remarked, “when you’re young and you have lots of time, you have time to do literally anything.” What started off as a brief substitute for boredom spiralled into a passion and an obsession in the best sense of the word. While Smith explains her impressive devotion to productions with an “I just kind of kept going,” she also acknowledges the aspects of theater that compelled her to hold on to it: “A lot of people say it’s like the rush of being on the stage, and that’s cool, but I personally think that, for me, the most valuable part of it is being able to create someone that has had so many experiences that I as a seventeen-year-old girl haven’t had… and to be able to put yourself in their body and be able to feel for them and feel what they’re feeling.”
So far, Smith has had the most fun playing the smart and sassy Little Sally in Urinetown. In middle school, she played the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland, which she loved, but also wonders if the pride of playing the eponymous protagonist, conveniently the only character “not in clown makeup,” was a significant cause of her love.
During a summer spent at the Young Actors’ Theatre Camp, Smith took a film lab class under Amir Malaklou, who has been in multiple short films and had a small role in the 2012 award-winning film Argo. This was a transformative moment for her. Spring may be the season of Musical Theater, but if Smith decides to pursue acting in college, it would be on film instead of the stage. While acting is her focus, she finds singing irreplaceably therapeutic: “In my free time, I won’t study monologues. I’ll play my guitar and sing to myself.” She laughs. “That sounds so weird, but yeah.” However, Smith’s role models are found on both Hollywood and Broadway. From Jennifer Lawrence to Sutton Foster, Smith is particularly inspired by “anyone who’s young and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”
Fiddler on the Roof is an intense musical because it carries a profound meaning in the hearts of many, which may add pressure to the cast and crew, but Smith remains positive. “If we do it well and do it right, it will be very powerful.” Smith plays the character of Tzeitel, Tevye’s oldest daughter. “Tzeitel is one of the more dynamic female characters I’ve ever been able to play because she’s very strong and she’s very powerful but she’s also very emotional,” says Smith.
Theater may seem intimidating to those who haven’t been doing it for as long as Smith has, but she encourages anyone interested to try it out. “I know it may seem a little bit daunting, like if you are nervous about an audition. But I promise that the audition is not that terrifying, and really, what is the worst that can happen?” When asked if she has experienced any embarrassing moments, Smith replies with a resounding “yes.” From having to be lifted up by a boy who was too skinny to carry her, to forgetting and messing up lines, to untimely voice cracks, Smith is no stranger to the drawbacks of a life on the stage. But theater means more to Smith than all of the mistakes and embarrassments associated with it. Which is why, ten years after the Sacred Heart gala, Smith is still here—singing, dancing, acting, and sharing her boundless vitality with everyone around her.