By Samantha Villarroel
Mackenzie Anderson is a senior double major in theatre and music. Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Anderson moved to South Florida for her degree and has become an active member of the performing arts community at NSU. She is also a sought-after voice teacher at ProMusic Plus in Weston, Florida.
Did you always know you wanted to go into theatre?
“I always loved theatre. I did it in high school, but I actually started as a marine bio [major]. And I realized very early on that it wasn’t for me, and so I switched to a music major, and then I finally added on the theatre major at the end of my sophomore year.”
What made you switch majors?
“I didn’t really like the very strict… setup of the bio majors and that lifestyle, and I tried to think of myself going to a lab every day for the next 40 years, and it just didn’t appeal to me at all. And when I thought about being on stage…the feeling of being on stage is unlike anything else. And so, I knew that was something that I would want to continue to do for 40 years. That was a big part of why I switched.”
What was your first impression of the theatre program, knowing that NSU isn’t a theatre school?
“That’s a good one. I was really intrigued about how involved the professors are in the students’ lives… The first thing I noticed is that the relationships between the students and the professors are much closer. For example, we call all of our professors by their first names, which is so different from the bio program or any other major that I’ve seen here. It was a much closer relationship, and I really liked that. So my first impression was surprising but in a really good way.”
What’s it like being a vocal teacher?
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to like it… I spent a long time thinking that I was going to totally hate teaching, and then a friend of mine that graduated from [NSU] with a music degree, AJ Calaluca, he helped me get the job. And I went into my first day and I had no idea what I was doing. I was terrified, but I have grown to love it so much. It’s so exciting when you’re working with a student and they are having trouble with hitting a high note or getting the right tone for a song. And when they finally have that breakthrough, when they get it right for the first time, just watching them light up and knowing you were part of that is such an amazing feeling, so I’ve really grown to love teaching music.”
What are you plans for after graduation?
“I’m staying down here for at least a year or two… I’m just going to work. I’m going to keep teaching, but I’m also going to be auditioning for professional companies down here. South Florida has a really awesome theatre scene with a lot of different companies and a lot of different styles of shows, and I want to get some credits on my resume and work with a few different directors and get some experience as a professional actor. And then ultimately move to New York City and hopefully succeed there.”
What are your aspirations in life?
“Well, my ultimate dream is of course to be working in New York. Ideally, on Broadway. Another one of my little childhood fantasies that has lasted for my entire life is to work for Disney as a performer, like on a cruise or with a tour of a Disney show, or even just being at Disney itself. Being at the Nemo musical at Animal Kingdom would be a dream come true.”
What’s your best memory at NSU?
“It’s not a specific thing, but just watching myself grow as a performer. For example, we have an annual Broadway Bash, and my first year in Broadway Bash as a freshman, it was really cool and really exciting… but then comparing that to my performance in my senior year Broadway Bash and seeing how I grew as a performer, as a singer, as an actor, as a dancer… it was just really neat to see how much progress I’ve made… Everyone has their doubts about how they’re doing and who they are and if they are doing the right thing. Seeing the progress that I’ve made thanks to the amazing professors and directors I’ve worked with and all of the really, really supportive students around me, that is kind of my favorite memory.”
Out of all the shows you’ve been in, what’s your favorite?
“It’s a tie. I really, really enjoyed Broadway Bash this year… because I got the chance to showcase everything that I had worked on with some really awesome people and with some really awesome songs… I think my other favorite would be the one we’re working on right now, “Once Upon a Mattress,” which is going to be the last weekend in February. It’s being directed by Margaret Ledford… She is such an amazing director… Every single time, she pulls things out of me that I didn’t even knew were there, and I’m having so much fun with the production.”
If you could give one piece of advice to the undergraduates in the theatre program, what would it be?
“Have the bigger picture in mind. Don’t get caught up in the little things. It’s really, really easy to over analyze every little thing you’ve done wrong, especially as a performer. We’re so over-analytical, and we’re so in tune with our emotions that it’s too easy to get caught up in everything that goes wrong and to lose sight of the bigger picture and lose sight of who you want to be and who you really are. It’s easy to forget that you’re talented and that you deserve to be here and that you can do it. My advice would be to not get caught up in those little negatives and to keep the bigger picture in mind.”
Caption: Anderson started out at NSU as a marine biology major, but then switched to music and theatre after realizing that she loved being on stage.
Credit: M. Anderson.