Students who want to just dabble in the arts or turn professional are finding that North Central College has world-class facilities and professional faculty to help them reach their goals. Musical theatre, music education, jazz studies and studio art are just a few examples of the academic majors students are pursuing on a campus that’s rich with performance and exhibit opportunities.
After balancing art, academics and athletics as a student, Andrea Larson has her sights set on taking center stage.
Senior Andrea Larson came to North Central College hoping to participate in theatre productions while playing volleyball and studying music education.
Four years later, this talented performer is planning on going pro. After graduating with a musical theatre major in June, she’d love nothing more than to join a professional theatre touring company.
As a high school senior, Andrea first got excited about North Central when she learned about the multiple musical productions that are open to any student interested in music and/or theatre. When she visited campus, she found that she could combine theatre and music majors, unlike other schools she was considering.
“It’s rare to find a school that allows you to pursue both areas,” she says. “And some schools were very uppity about their theatre programs, telling me that they only selected a few students each year. North Central is inviting to everyone, regardless of their majors, and it feels like one big family here.”
Andrea first majored in music education, but then reached a turning point in her sophomore year when she was cast as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie and the show was selected as regional finalist in the nation’s prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. “My mom didn’t want me to become a musical theatre major because she thought it would be too unstable for a career,” says Andrea. “But after Millie, she said to go for it.”
Andrea also thrilled North Central audiences with her role as Grizabella in Cats and her vocal performance of “Memory.” The show’s director and choreographer, Brian Lynch (also North Central’s fine arts director), had performed in the third national tour of Cats and incorporated many costume ideas and dance steps he learned. The show nearly set an attendance record for a campus production, attracting more than 3,500 for five shows.
“What’s great about North Central is that you look into the audience and you see football players or baseball players attending the show,” she says. “And those of us in Concert Choir will all get together and go to a football game together. We’re truly a family here.”