Olivia McElwee dreams of one day performing professionally in musical theatre, perhaps even making it all the way to Broadway.
“I’ve been singing since a very young age. I love singing. I’ve thought about this,” the Troy High School freshman said. “Singing is something I’m definitely considering. I would love to do this for a living. Musical theatre would be so cool as a job.”
McElwee recently had the opportunity to meet and work with someone who is living that very dream. McElwee was one of a dozen local performers selected to work with professional singer Aaron LaVigne as part of a TheatreLab Dayton masterclass. LaVigne is originally from Cincinnati, but currently lives in New York City and has appeared in both Broadway and off-Broadway shows. He recently was in Dayon performing as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at The Schuster Center.
“We saw Jesus Christ Superstar at The Schuster Center, and so my mom (Holly) started following the guy who played Jesus (LaVigne) on Instagram, and he announced he was having a masterclass for the people of Dayton, who could audition for it. I was interested in it, and so I sent in an audition tape and I got in.
“I was so excited, because they only took like 12 people from the Dayton area that auditioned, and the fact that I was one of those people was so exhilarating. Most of the other people who were selected were adults. I was the youngest person there.”
Troy High School choir teacher Rachel Sagona was not at all surprised McElwee was selected to participate in the masterclass with LaVigne.
“Olivia is the best kind of student,” Sagona said. “Not only is she engaged, hardworking and talented, but she has a great attitude, is coachable and is one of the most helpful students. She brings the fun!”
McElwee said the opportunity to learn form and work with a Broadway performer was invaluable as she continues her own singing career.
“We learned how to act through music,” she said. “It was very much based around musical theater. The performers that were there would sing part of a song, and the guy who played Jesus would give you further feedback on how to connect with the material, and just put some acting into it.”
Sagona said the opportunity will also give McElwee added confidence to pursue her dream.
“This was a great confidence booster,” Sagona said. “It is one thing to have your mom and choir teacher tell you how good you are, but to hear it from someone in the Broadway community who has never met you before has got to be a boost for knowing that you can do this if you want. She has that potential and the drive to take her music anywhere she wants.”
McElwee said the chance to work with LaVigne has only furthered her resolve to continue her singing career.
“It put things in a more practical sense, because he kind of explained what he did, how he made a living in between shows, the casting process, that kind of thing,” McElwee said. “It was just a great experience.”