For most people, the harsh bright lights that illuminate a stage would be a nuisance, a reason to stay in the cool darkness of an audience, a cause of sweaty fatigue. But for MCCC Theater Arts program alumni Lauren Garvey, stage lights are a source of energy and excitement while she acts, sings, and dances her heart out; they fuel her lifelong passion for performance. Luckily, there are plenty of stage lights at Temple University where Garvey has been accepted into the incredibly competitive BFA Temple theatre program, a program that only offers 16 seats per year.
Although Garvey isn’t starting Temple’s program until the spring, instead using the fall to work as an assistant at an upscale hair salon while saving money for her future endeavors, her focus and commitment remain on the stage. In her little spare time, Garvey pours over Backstage Magazine and peruses the Philadelphia Theater Alliance website looking for auditions. While taking advantage of local opportunities, Garvey also keeps an eye on big city counterparts, traveling to New York and Los Angeles two or three times a month for auditions. Luckily, Garvey enjoys the process and thrives off of being busy.
“Doing auditions is just a blast!” Garvey remarked with a smile. “But I do think that this semester of auditioning is going to be a wake-up call for me, either strengthening my drive or making me take a step back.”
However, if her past is any indication, Garvey’s drive towards theater continues to grow stronger with every new step. Born into a theatrical family and raised in the Roxborough and Manayunk area, Garvey grew up singing, dancing, attending productions, and listening to show tunes. “Dad’s a singer, mom’s a dancer,” she revealed. “I’m a combination of the two.”
Although as a child Garvey was involved in a plethora of activities, from playing competitive sports to dancing ballet, it was the arts which eventually won her heart. During her senior year in high school Garvey made the decision to actively pursue theater, immersing herself in dance classes, community theater, and a school dinner theater program.
Despite the grueling application and auditioning process, Garvey got accepted into every college program that she applied for. Originally Garvey chose to attend college in Pittsburgh on a full scholarship, quickly realizing however that the program and university did not fit with her goals. Returning home, Garvey attended Philadelphia University despite the absence of a theater program, instead experimenting with psychology and communication courses.
“It’s difficult to sit in a classroom full of people who are passionate about a subject that you’re not passionate about,” Garvey confessed. And that’s what prompted to her to seek out Montgomery County Community College and pay for classes that allowed her to do what she was truly passionate about: perform.
Having heard positive remarks concerning the MCCC Theater Arts Program, Garvey arrived to campus with high hopes and was immediately impressed and excited by the program and its support.
“The acting classes at MCCC brought out more sides of me, acting- and performing-wise, than I ever even knew I had,” Garvey revealed.
A large part of that self-discovery, Garvey was quick to mention, was brought on by the wonderful staff, especially assistant coordinator and program director Mike Whistler.
“Mike Whistler, who was my acting teacher and mentor through the year and half, two years that I was there, he really understood his students,” Garvey said. “He would pick out the thing that you would excel in. He understood us.”
When pressed on what Whistler brought forth in herself, Garvey laughed. “I never knew I was funny!” she admitted. “I would stay away from comedic monologues because I never thought that I was funny to anybody, so I would do serious monologues and they weren’t translating. But at MCCC I figured out what I’m really good at! I’m good at comedy; I’m good at letting loose, and character acting. That’s something that Mike really opened my eyes to.”
Since graduating from MCCC, Garvey spent the past summer singing and dancing as a member of the Spirit of Philadelphia floorshow while simultaneously getting started with her auditioning process. However it is her upcoming Temple theater program that she is most looking forward to.
“My transcripts from Pittsburgh didn’t transfer over, so I was accepted into Temple’s theater program and advised to transfer into the musical theater program,” Garvey explained. “But I’m naturally more of a singer than an actor, so getting accepted into the theater program…really learning new skills and having to improve that aspect is what I’m most excited about.”
Even while keeping busy with her own bright future in theater, Garvey still makes time to use her talent to help others. Last October Garvey participated in a program working with autistic children to teach them about acting, while more recently performing in a cabaret to help bring her local community theater back to life. Garvey manages to shine no matter what she is doing, and with passion as her compass her love of theater has touched many people and continues to propel her forward.
“I don’t like sitting in one place for a long period of time, and if I know it’s not right then I’m just done and I’m going to find what is right,” Garvey explain. “And I like that about theater because I’ll be doing something new and having a new experience, hopefully for the rest of my life.”
~ by Kelly Cox