A natural performer

Sophomore excels in the performing arts

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photo courtesy of Marclongbrake photography

Sophomore Madalynn Johnson performs her callback song at the International Thespian Festival in Bloomington, Indiana., an opportunity only a handful of students experience. “I feel that all of the things that have happened made me a better performer, and also made me more confident in myself,” Johnson said. “And to be honest, all that has happened this year and last year don’t seem real.”

Paige Hightower, Staff Reporter

Getting the lead role in this year’s first musical “Legally Blonde” isn’t the only big accomplishment for sophomore Madalynn Johnson, who also won several awards and even performs for the Holland Theater.

Success in theater is nothing new to Johnson. Ever since her first year at Millard West, she has been working hard to be her best. From taking drama classes, auditioning for musicals, and even participating in competitive theater events, Johnson has done it all. Over the summer, Johnson auditioned for the part of Paulette Bonafonté in the musical “Legally Blonde”, but did so well that she landed the lead role of Elle Woods.

“It honestly means so much to me,” Johnson said. “It is still so crazy I even received this role. We have made great progress and the show is so great and I have had so much fun playing this part and being a fun girly blonde!.”

Adopting Elle Wood’s personality is nothing new to Johnson. Many of her classmates and teachers recognize her natural positive, kind, and bubbly personality, making the long days of rehearsals enjoyable.

“She makes practices very fun,” sophomore Ryley Ford said. “When she walks in the room she is just like a light and takes the weight off of our shoulders. I also admire that she is really inclusive and kind to everyone involved.”

Johnson hasn’t just performed on Millard West’s stage, on January 8, 2021, Johnson started performing at the Holland Theater in Omaha, one of the best in the country.

“It is amazing, I was beyond honored to be up on that stage performing my song,” Johnson said. “I performed The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home from the musical ‘Daddy Long Legs’ by Paul Gordon. I was actually the only freshman up there which makes it even more crazy!”

Johnson’s excellence in theater has been recognized nationally. She was inducted into the International Thespian Society and scored a superior in all categories when attending the International Thespian Festival in Indiana with theater director Brooke Phillips and a small group of others.

“I am so proud,” Phillips said. “She did earn a superior rating on her freshman year Thespy song and was featured at the state Thespy Showcase- which is pretty unusual for a freshman. She also won a superior at the International Level.”

Although she is amazing from the audience’s perspective, Johnson has been pushing herself to be even better. With her growing success and determination to do more, her teachers wish the best for her.

“I wish that she would enjoy the processes of growing and learning while performing,” Phillips said. “I think she puts a lot of pressure on herself to be perfect, especially since she started her high school career off in such a strong way, but I just want her to enjoy every chance she gets to perform and not necessarily focus on if it was perfect. But she works really hard. She comes prepared. She connects to the material. She knows that telling a story in musical theater is more than just singing the notes correctly- it’s about connecting with the character and the audience.   If you can do that- you’re unstoppable.”

Johnson’s passion for theater and determination to do well has gotten her to do things she had never thought were possible so soon. Her love and dedication will help her reach her goals of bettering her singing, acting, and dancing career. To see just how amazing she is, you can watch Johnson perform as Elle on October 6th, 7th, and 8th at 7 pm, and on October 9th at 2 pm in the Millard West auditorium.