Scecina Senior Shines in ‘Mean Girls’ Musical Through Young Artists Program

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Scecina Senior Tanner McCormick-Messer made his mark in the theater world by securing a role in the high school edition of the highly acclaimed musical production of Mean Girls. This performance marked a significant milestone for Tanner, as it was his first involvement in a production outside his theatre career at Scecina.

Tanner’s journey to the stage began when former Scecina music teacher and director Chris Ritchie brought him the exciting opportunity. Recognizing Tanner’s exceptional talent and dedication, Mr. Ritchie encouraged him to audition for the Young Artists Program (YAP), ultimately leading to his casting in Mean Girls this past July.

The Young Artists Program (YAP), organized by Civic Theatre, is renowned for nurturing young talent and providing invaluable opportunities to showcase their abilities. Mean Girls, an adaptation of the famous movie, has captivated audiences worldwide with its catchy music, relatable characters, and timely themes.

Securing a role in Mean Girls was not without its fair share of nerves and surprises. The audition process presented two options: virtual auditions or in-person auditions. Opting for the latter, Tanner arrived at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theater on a Sunday, armed with a thermos filled with hot herbal tea to calm his nerves.

The sheer number of people initially overwhelmed Tanner, intensifying his nervousness.

“At first, I was intimidated because it seemed as though many of the individuals already knew each other, but I quickly discovered the warmth and friendliness of the YAP community. I made instant friends!”

Tanner credits Scecina’s Theatre Director, Leslie (Zimmerman) Young ’99, as a big influence in shaping his understanding of theater. From auditions to character work in rehearsals, Ms. Young’s guidance and creative thinking left an indelible mark on Tanner’s theatrical education.

He often found himself pondering, “What would Ms. Young encourage me to do?” or reflecting on the teachings he had received from her. After his audition,  Tanner learned he had secured a part in the ensemble role of Shane Oman.

Transitioning to Civic Theater brought Tanner an abundance of enjoyment and opportunities for growth. The experience allowed him to delve into the world of dance and explore the intricacies of Broadway staging.

Throughout the summer, Tanner participated in workshops supported by the Civic Theatre. From tap to jazz, commercial/music video to hip-hop, he seized every opportunity to expand his dance repertoire.

Tanner added, “Performing at Civic was an enjoyable experience! The informative instructors taught me how to position my body for each style.”

The support and connection from his Scecina community during the summer performances also impacted Tanner, he shared. “I cannot express the overwhelming joy I felt seeing my Scecina community come out to support me during my performance. It was like a crossover episode where my two worlds collided in the best way possible. I am immensely grateful for their support and their belief in me.”

The experience took an unexpectedly heartwarming turn. Tanner discovered the Civic Theater offered a scholarship that waived the fees for the recipient’s participation in future YAP productions. This revelation surprised Tanner, who unaware of this opportunity. When they presented him with the scholarship, they attributed it to his overall positive attitude and unwavering work ethic, a genuinely touching recognition of his dedication.

“We applaud Tanner’s commitment to the arts and congratulate him on this well-deserved opportunity. Tanner’s story inspires all our students, reminding them that hard work and perseverance can lead to unexpected and rewarding outcomes. We will continue to support and nurture the creative talents of our students, fostering an environment where they can flourish and make a positive impact in the arts,” added Scecina President Joe Therber.

As the curtain fell on this chapter of Tanner McCormick-Messer’s YAP experience, it was evident his journey was far from over. The scholarship, the dreams of future performances, and the anticipation of rejoining Civic Theater’s YAP next performance of Cats painted a picture of a young talent on the brink of a promising future.

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