My name is Brooks Andre Shatraw. I am a seventeen year old gay man who is absolutely in love with Broadway and Musical Theatre. I am here at RIC majoring in Musical Theatre and hoping to one day actually star on Broadway. When I was nine years old, I decided to leave my life of athletics, filled with Hockey and Baseball, for a new life filled with dance, music, and acting. By starting Hip Hop, Jazz, and Tap dance, I gained a love of performing. I can remember singing since I could talk and acting out imaginary situations with my brothers at such young ages. Once I left my athletic life, my mom introduced the concept of theater to me. I had always loved seeing shows, but I had never imagined myself on stage until my cousin Dylan played a Lost Boy in Peter Pan. Once seeing a kid my age do something like that, I wanted to do it too. This led me to audition for Alice In Wonderland Jr. I was horrified. My mom drove me and I clung to her leg the entire time before I had to go on stage to audition. Once my number was called, I walked onto the stage with the lyrics page in my hand, my whole body shaking from nervousness. I introduced myself, and then sang my song. They liked me, I hadn't blown it, I was okay! So then they had me do cold readings from the script. This was my strength. I was very outgoing and flamboyant, so I read confidently with expression, and they thanked me for coming and let me go.
A couple days later, I was being babysat and the phone rang. We all rushed to the phone and she answered it.
"Hello? Is this Brooks Shatraw?"
"No, this is his babysitter!"
"Oh. Okay, well we're just calling to tell him that he was casted as Tweedle Dum in Encore Kids' production of Alice In Wonderland Jr.!"
"Oh my God, thank you so much! I will let him know right now!"
And we jumped up and down, I hugged her and my twin brother Bradley and we all celebrated my huge accomplishment.
That was the day that I knew this new activity was going to be really special.
As rehearsals went by, I was making friends, learning music, lines, and blocking. Before I knew it, Opening Night was upon us. I was so nervous, yet so so so excited. The show started and I took a deep breathe as the curtain opened next to us. As the lights shined on my face, the pit played the music, and we started to create the story onstage in front of this amazing audience. As we hit the last note of the opening number, something inside of me just switched on. It was like as if a fire was just being lit, or a refurbished cart was just being started after weeks of repairs. I knew right inside of me at that very moment that this activity that had become so special to me was, in fact, my new life. I was an actor. I was a theatre kid. I was, officially, a part of the amazing world that is "Musical Theatre."