Senior Arts Stars Shine for Milton
by Olivia Atwood on Friday, June 8th, 2012
No doubt about it, the senior class is stacked with brilliant artists. With so many exceptional musicians, painters, and performers, it is impossible to recognize every talented student who has ever set foot in Milton’s arts department. However, some students have made the arts their home throughout their time at Milton. Six seniors–Danielle, Nick, Brittany, Louis, Liz and Andy–share their experiences with us as they move towards graduation, the summer, and the future. Best of luck to these six incredible students who have inspired us through dance, music, song, speech, theatre, and art, and set the standard for years to come.
Danielle Frederick: Dancer
We all know Danielle. The pint-sized senior, who took her first dance class at the age of two, has taken Milton’s stage by storm. Danielle shares that, during the Friday performance of this year’s winter Dance concert, she almost “started beaming while on stage,” so happy to be doing what she loves before an audience that included former Milton dance stars N’dea Hallet and Ashley Bair (’11). “I had chills,” says Danielle, “I could hear N’dea and Ashley yelling ‘Little D!’…Everything seemed to fall together.” Since her arrival at Milton in the ninth grade, Danielle has held great admiration for the seniors who raised the bar before her. She recalls the great “energy and concentration” that her role models dedicated to “every step” of their dances, and adds that she was “honored” to perform alongside them. “I remember feeling so happy when I found out I would get to work with them,” Danielle recalls, reflecting on past dance concerts. One of her favorite feelings is “the hype that generates around Dance Concert…Dance Concert allows students of any background to learn more about dance and discover an appreciation for it.” She says, “Numerous times there have also been those moments when you are on stage and suddenly the energy of the crowd hits you…and you know you just nailed a step. You can’t help but beam and feel proud of yourself.” Danielle notes that the support of her teachers and coaches at Milton, specifically dance and choreography teacher Kelli Edwards, encouraged her as she pursued dance. “Ms. Edwards is incredible. She handles …the Dance Concert and deserves a lot of respect,” Danielle gushes, “[And] I love the way she dances.” Whatever respect and appreciation Danielle has for her time dancing at Milton, we, too, have for her. It has been inspiring to watch her glide across Milton’s stage and, luckily for us, it looks like she’s going to continue. “Dance was my first passion,” Danielle adds, “And I am not yet ready to let it go.”
Brittany Owens: Singer
Last year, I was in the Kellner bathroom gushing over how happy I was that Brittany Owens had been cast as the lead in the spring’s production of Chicago. Then, someone from a neighboring stall said in a tiny voice, “Thanks!” Brittany emerged, smiling and blushing slightly. She might not remember that moment, but it only further proved to me that she is as kind as she is talented. The lovely senior whose beautiful, raspy voice has become a regular Milton phenomenon has starred in the a cappella group Octet since freshmen year. Since coming to Milton, Brittany shares, she has “Loved every performance.” She reveals, “I know this is weird, but I love when I make a mistake [because] everyone cheers…no matter what.” Like the humble star she is, she notes that her favorite performances are the ones where she is singing background rather than soloing. She recalls that the performances she takes the most pride in are “Hometown Glory” and “The Dance,” as the background parts “Took a lot of control and technique.” Birttany began singing at the age of three or four in her church choir and has never stopped. “My father forced my sister to join the choir, so I decided to follow her,” Brittany recalls. There have been ups and downs to her singing career thus far, she notes, naming her hardest moment as her solo this year for Octet. “We wanted to get it over with, so even though my voice was almost completely shot, we performed. It was a major struggle for me to get my voice to work, let alone belt the notes I needed to, and at one point I almost fainted on stage, but I knew it was definitely too late to not perform,” she says. “Even though it was a rough performance, I knew the audience and community support[ed] [me].” Brittany has been known to light up Milton assemblies with her uplifting voice and it’s a given that we will miss her next year. Looking towards the future, she plans to continue singing, though not as a career. “I don’t want to turn this thing that I love into simply a way to make money,” she says, “I want to sing…simply for my love of singing.” She loves singing, and we love listening to her. “I’ll take whatever comes my way,” she adds, optimistically. I, for one, hope that someday she’ll be playing on the car radio as I drive down I-95.
Andy Zhang: Artist
Andy Zhang’s paintings are breathtaking. “I mostly work with styles of surrealism and photorealism, ” shares Andy. “My favorite medium is oil paint.” One of his most memorable works, a surrealist piece done in dark pencil, depicts a crowd of people with clocks embedded in their heads before a crumpling, clock-embedded wall. Awed by his skill and vision, students couldn’t help but pause to admire the vast amount of emotion contained in a single piece. Since coming to Milton, Andy has emerged as an incredibly refined artist. His work is displayed across campus and known for its lifelike qualities and attention to detail. Some of his best-known works are what students have pinpointed as the “clock paintings,” three in particular. One depicts a large eye with two hands of a clock ticking around the iris, a second the aforementioned clocks and the wall, and the third a colored painting of a wall carved out with a clock hanging in the sky. These three paintings are well known among the student body and recognized as Andy’s work instantly. One painting, however, done rather recently and displayed in this year’s student art show, takes our breath away. This painting shows Andy himself, staring at a wall with the three clock paintings hanging up, and looking at his watch. The painting, at a glance, resembles not a painting but a photograph. He captures his first paintings so perfectly they seem to be represented on film. Not a detail is left behind. This, in essence, captures Andy’s talent at photorealism. “My favorite piece is probably the most recent painting I did of my dorm in the style of photorealism,” Andy reveals. The painting of Wolcott house seems too real to be replicated simply with a brush and color, every bit of it down to the white of the bricks. His work has inspired not only students of the arts but also touring kids as they contemplate his intricate and unique paintings. Andy explains, “ I started drawing when I was 4. I’ve always liked to doodle, and when I started taking art classes, I knew it was something I’d like to pursue.” While he doesn’t think he’ll pursue art as a career, “I will continue art in the future,” the talented artist says. Andy’s work will live on at Milton, if not in galleries across the globe.
Louis McWilliams: Speechie
In a recent French class, a couple of kids were procrastinating and exploring the Milton website. They stumbled across pictures of Milton plays. One girl pointed to the screen and said, “There’s that kid! He’s been in literally every play.” The other girl nodded and clicked to the next picture. “Yeah,” she said, “He’s really good, too.” That boy is Louis McWilliams, one of the students who lives on Milton’s stage. Not only an actor, Louis can also “Speak” incredibly, competing in nation-wide speech tournaments. Louis has been doing work in the arts for quite some time now, but his work in speech really developed in high school. In fact, over Memorial Day weekend, he and Duo partner Liz Stanfield placed in the top 12 in the nation for Duo Interpretation with their piece “13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview,” by Ian McWethy. Their semi-final round wowed the crowd with the sparkle and confidence that Louis exudes. Louis displays talent and expertise in all his work at Milton. He comes across as a kind, smart, and extremely talented student-performer. His favorite play at Milton, he reveals, was “Le Dindon,” the 2011 winter production, directed by Dar Anastas, because it was “tons of fun.” That phrase sums up what Louis has come to represent over the years: not someone who seeks to achieve high honor for the titles or awards, but someone who strives to perform and do well for the “fun” and joy that he gets from it. Louis will attend Stanford in the fall and he doesn’t know if he’ll pursue speech because his school doesn’t have a college team. Louis reveals, “I will definitely continue to pursue theatre, possibly even major in it.” One of Louis’s standout performances during his time at Milton was his performance in 2011’s “The Visit,” where he played the lead with compassion and fear so real Ms. Marianelli confessed to thinking about the show for days afterwards. The members of the speech team will always laugh about Louis’s obsession with playing bananagrams at tournaments, and with singing his rendition of “Let me see your funky chicken.” Louis is one of a kind, and hopefully he will come back to visit and to perform in the future. As he puts it, “Theatre is one of my passions and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”
Liz Stanfield: Actress
Since her middle school days, Liz Stanfield’s wavy-curly hair, dazzling laugh, and sharp performances have made her a standout on the Milton Stage. Hearing Liz’s flawless Spanish wowed Senora’s Crew’s 4AP class this year, witnessing the time and energy she devotes to speech made the whole speech wing love her, and seeing her steal show after show in theatre
productions sealed Liz in Milton’s book of standouts. Liz is truly unique. She plays her characters to perfection with a kind of zest that only she possesses. One of her favorite performances was “Le Dindon” as well, and who could forget her as the crazy foreign lady who hid in the wardrobe. In fact, one scene stands out so clearly you can practically see Liz’s hands wiggle from the inside of the wardrobe and pull the doors shut with a click. She must have curled up in there for at least ten minutes without making a peep while wearing that red fluffy dress. Liz captivates audiences no matter what she does. She’s been acting since she was little, she revealed, and she doesn’t think she’ll ever stop. Her first major production was “The Odyssey,” directed by Shane Fuller in 2008-09. Liz belted it out as Marcy Park in this fall’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” And who could forget her whipping out a flute and soloing on stage, only further emphasizing her skill in not only acting and singing, but also music? Liz has gained recognition as an incredible student, actress, and person throughout her 13 years at Milton, but to many, she will be the friend with whom we share personal jokes about bad ballots from speech nationals and laugh about tiny details of our everyday lives. Liz inspires anyone who’s ever dreamed about taking the stage, and we look forward to seeing her take on the future with that distinctive Liz-like-sparkle.
Nick Deveau: Musician
Nick Deveau belongs behind his drum set, and everyone who has had the pleasure of hearing him bang out a solo knows it. “Anytime there’s a good crowd, I love playing,” he says, “It’s not everyday that I can share my playing with people around me, and that’s always pretty thrilling.” When asked about his favorite Milton memory, Nick recalls being in South Africa on the Jazz trip, playing “A gig on the waterfront in Cape Town–We played this amphitheatre open to the public, so people could come and go as they wished. If you think about that, it means that the size of your audience is totally dependant on the quality of your performance, and we managed to pack the amphitheatre full. Both songs “I’ll Remember April” and “All Blues (Latin Feel)” were highlights of the day.” He recalls another defining moment as “[his] solo on Art Blakey’s “Caravan” this year at the fall jazz concert. Nailed that one.” It’s hard to imagine the killer percussionist ever not nailing a solo. Luckily, he plans on continuing playing in the future, “though not on a professional level.” Nick says, “It’ll always be a sweet hobby, a way to meet people, and a way to earn a few bucks. But for me, music is all about performance.” He acknowledges his jazz teacher, Mr. Bob Sinicrope, and his drum teacher, Adam Nazro, as two huge contributing factors to his drumming career thus far. “[Mr. Sinicrope] understood that we can learn more about playing our instruments in one two hour gig than in a whole semester of class, so he really tried to get us out playing,” shares Nick. “And Mr. Nazro knows my weaknesses inside and out and forces me to spend months and months on them.” He feels both mentors have made him a successful and “versatile” drummer. While he may have had humble beginnings (“In third grade, I heard my neighbor, Brooks English (I), playing…I asked my mom if I could play too…I got a few lessons for my birthday and I loved it. Within weeks Brooks heard me shredding the kit in my garage and retired from the art.”), it is clear that Nick is going places. Hopefully, he’ll return to play for us in the future from time to time.
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