Senior to take stage at Illinois Wesleyan

Kaia Preus

She has flitted across the stage as a quirky bird, has painted her eyebrows blonde, has missed dozens of school days, and has memorized paragraphs of Shakespearean language–all for her love of theater. An integral member of BSM’s drama program, senior Amy Stockhaus will continue her pursuit of the stage next year while attending Illinois Wesleyan College, where she was accepted into the prestigious musical theater program. Around 130 people auditioned for the eight spots available. “It was really scary because it was my first audition,” said Stockhaus who also tried out for and got into musical theater programs at both Steven’s Point in Wisconsin, and Millikin in Illinois.

Stockhaus, who will star in BSM’s West Side Story this spring, showed promise of performing early on. “She was always hilarious and she could sing on pitch really well at about four-years-old. She had a good imagination and would pick up characters,” said Mrs. Stockhaus, choir teacher and Stockhaus’ mom. “She needed that outlet. One of the things that’s really helped is the flexiblity that BSM has shown while she’s doing plays outside of school. When she was in High School Musical [at Children’s Theatre], she was missing three to four days of school a week, and the teachers and administration were very encouraging and so were her fellow students,” said Mrs. Stockhaus.

The Illinois Wesleyan program involves intense training in dance, voice, and acting. “In order to be a good performer all around–a triple threat–you start with acting and you base everything off that,” said Stockhaus, “I’m excited to improve and learn more…I know I will be pushed.” Because there are only eight people in the program, “she’ll get a lot of one-on-one help that she’s never had,” said Mrs. Stockhaus. “She’s never had private dance, voice, or acting lessons, and I think this will be something that will make her blossom as a performer.”

About two months prior to auditions it became crunch time for the Stockhaus family. “I think she was well prepared for her auditions, but I feel that we could have started practicing earlier,” said Mrs. Stockhaus. “The hardest part was picking songs and monologues that wouldn’t be overdone and show off her voice and comedic ability,” she said. Stockhaus sang “You’ve Got Possibilites” from Superman and “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors, the play she starred in as a freshman at BSM, and chose to perform monologues from Knock Knock by Jules Pfeiffer and an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet

Another struggle for Stockhaus came in the form of her arthritis, which “held her back early on” and restricted her dancing and movement abilities, said Mrs. Stockhaus. After the arthritis came back recently, Stockhaus chose to receive injections which has since staved off the pain and made movement easier. “I was worried that it would be a lot of intense dancing at the audition and I wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Stockhaus.

The dance portion was the first segment of the audition Stockhaus would have to face, where the dance teacher and the head of the program watched the students pick up a jazz combination and execute different ballet and across-the-floor moves. “Learning the jazz dance was really intense but really fun. The teacher reminded me of the teacher in High School Musical. She would always say things like, ‘Now reach to the rays of the sun.’ She knew she was hilarious,” said Stockhaus. The students were placed in groups of three and made to perform in front of the teachers. “It was intimidating, and we were the last to go. You just had to try your best to be original and hope they notice you,” said Stockhaus.

Then Stockhaus waited for her audition slot for three hours before belting out her songs and performing her monologues for a panel of teachers. “Afterwards, they send you to talk to the pianist in the corner of the room while they sit and talk about you. You’re thinking: ‘Do I want to listen? Do I not want to listen?’ It was really awkward,” said Stockhaus.

The family, ecstatic to have Stockhaus be able to seriously study musical theater, is looking forward to seeing what she’ll do in the future. “She’s very determined and she can do a lot with [her degree]. She can teach, she can perform and teach,” said Mrs. Stockhaus. “It’s her passion. If you have a passion, you can make a living.”