Green River Star -

By STEPHANIE THOMPSON
People Editor 

Funding needed to pursue a dream

 

April 25, 2018

The dream of having a true Broadway experience may just come true for one Green River student.

Sandra Figenser, a Green River High School freshman, was attending state drama at the end of November at the Casper College when a representative from the Open Jar Institute explained to the group this was the first time Open Jar had ever come to Wyoming and they were looking for students to audition for their one-week program.

"He looked like he wasn't from here and he talked about meeting Broadway stars," Figener said about the Open Jar rep.

According to a letter Figenser received, "Open Jar is New York City's most Broadway-integrated actor training program. The Open Jar Institute provides select students intensive one-on-one training with some of Broadway's biggest stars, performers, directors, choreographers, agents and casting directors."

The reason the group is called open jar is they believe that when the lid of an open jar is off, the possibilities are endless.

"I tried out just because meeting the Broadway people I love sounded great," Figenser said. "As a freshman, I competed against high school juniors, seniors, and a few sophomores, and I was prepared for rejection."

However, during the actual tryouts, Figenser thought they were fun.

"Try outs were fun because I was already obsessing about West Side story," she said. "We had to learn choreography from West Side Story."

She also was required to sing 16 bars of a song and she performed "On My Own" from Les Misérables.

Figenser said she also wasn't intimidated by the other singers at the tryouts.

"I was more intimidated about the girl who was a professional dancer who had been dancing since she was eight," she said. "She had a professional head shot even."

During the audition, Figenser's friend, Bailee Clark, assured her that the room was silent when she sang.

"But I still didn't think I was going to get in," she said. "I was glad I made an impression."

With this in mind, Figenser couldn't believe the email she read in January telling her she was one of 60 from across the country selected to participate in the Open Jar training session this summer.

"I didn't think I had gotten in because they gave out an internship to Open Jar. I thought it was the trip," she said. "Plus, I didn't have a head shot to turn in and I didn't get one because I thought I hadn't made it in."

After she received the email, she called Clark to see if she got one too because she thought it was a mix up.

"She hadn't gotten one, so she demanded I read the email to her," Figenser said. "She told everyone."

"I couldn't even talk when I got the email I'd gotten in," she said.

Figenser said she can still recall how she was so excited she about being accepted that Principal Darren Howard had to tell her dad for her.

Once the realization sunk in that they had been accepted, the matter of how to she was going to pay for the trip started to creep in.The cost for Figenser to attend the program, which is scheduled to take place June 24-July 1, is $3,000.

So far, Figenser has raised about $1,000 through letters she sent asking her family, friends and just about anyone she could think of, for money to help pay for the trip.

Now, she's asking the community for help. Those who would like to help Figenser out can visit the Go Fund Me website gofundme.com/sandra-figenser.

However, Figenser is willing to sing her way to Broadway. On May 15, Figenser and some of her friends will perform at Stellar Coffee from 5:30-7 p.m. The money raised will go toward her trip. Figenser has also been babysitting and completing yard work to earn money for the trip.

The trip

As for the trip itself, while in New York, Figenser will spend all day in rehearsals, including dancing and acting classes and vocal workshops. She's also required to pick a couple of songs and have them memorized so they can help her improve them. Figenser will attend four Broadway shows and after one of the performances she'll have the chance to talk with the cast and crew.

Figenser is also required to bring head shots with a resumé attached to the back of them so she can hand them out to professionals in the field who may want to work with her in the future. She will also get to meet with an agent and learn first-hand which is better for her and whether she should hire an agent or a manager to represent her.

Figenser will perform her audition piece in front of a casting director to receive feedback on how to improve. She'll then receive advise on how to book a gig.

"Experts will help me refine my tryout skills," she said.

Parents and other family members are invited to go to New York and they can even stay in the same room if they want, however, Figenser has decided to stay with a roommate to obtain the full experience. Figenser's mother and grandmother are going on the trip, which her grandmother is paying for. Her mother and grandmother will have the chance to meet her at some of the shows, but she's doing everything else herself.

 

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