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Leading Off: With one Pinewood audition, lifelong Lincoln man makes his presence known – Lincoln Journal Star

Lincoln’s musical theater community, while talented, really isn’t that large, which means there are few strangers — and fewer surprises when it comes to auditions.

But every now and then, the unexpected happens.

Garret Weskamp has lived in Lincoln all his life. The 23-year-old graduated from Lincoln Pius X High School and Nebraska Wesleyan, but was a relative unknown within the local community theater scene.

“I had other things going on, ” he said.

So whenever he showed up in the spring to audition for “Newsies, inch this year’s Pinewood Performing Arts’ production, there was nary a murmur — nor has been much expected.

But when he belted out a stirring rendition of “I’m Alive, ” one of the memorable songs from the Tony Award-winning rock musical “Next to Normal, ” you can imagine the particular paper shuffling and blank stares that took place among the decisionmakers.

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“He walked in and was exactly what we were looking with regard to, ” stated Courtney Piccoli, another Lincoln subsequently native who is directing her 14th Pinewood Carrying out Arts manufacturing. “… Sometimes you just know. inch

Sometimes you do — even when you experienced no idea minutes before.

Weskamp, while a stranger to some, is no stranger to the stage. He was the regular performer at Wesleyan, where he earned his theater degree. But the pandemic shut down his senior year associated with shows, meaning he hasn’t been on stage in more than three years, whenever he was in Wesleyan’s creation of “American Idiot, ” the stage tribute in order to rock’s Green Day.

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The curtain closed upon the manufacturing in early March of 2020, simply days prior to life shut down and the stages went dark. Weskamp had been ready to do another show at the end of the particular school year, but it was canceled.  

He graduated and began teaching guitar, banjo and drum lessons at a local music store — saving his money for a move to Los Angeles that is on schedule to take place in January.

While so many associated with Lincoln’s theatre set move eastward with starry dreams of Broadway, this individual decided upon the West Coast. Maybe that’s because it affords him so many more options — from television to movies to music theater in order to music — and Weskamp is something of the renaissance guy, someone who has already been blessed along with more than his share of gifts.

“I’d love to perform it all, inch he mentioned. “I really like music, yet that’s not where my true passion lies. Doing stage plus some film stuff would be great. Bouncing back between those two is probably my ideal circumstance, if I could manage that. ”

That is his dream, but shaking off the rust and getting back onto the particular stage this summer was just some thing that made sense — especially since this might be their last summer in Lincoln. So without thinking twice, he decided to give “Newsies” a try.

“I’m kind of a spur-of-the-moment person, ” he said. “I don’t really plan things. I just showed up. ”

As mentioned, he or she crushed the audition plus got the particular lead. That is a rarity regarding Pinewood, which, after 72 years, offers garnered a well-earned reputation. It’s almost unheard of to get the lead on your first time away.

“Him doing that is usually a pretty big deal, ” stated Emily Maldavs, the artistic producer intended for “Newsies” who has been in several Pinewood productions over the years.  

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“Newsies, inch a musical which is loosely based on the New York City newsboys’ strike of 1899, has a gritty Bowery feel to it. And Piccoli mentioned she instantly saw Weskamp playing Jack Kelly, the particular leader of the newspaper delivery boys who were seeking better wages.

“He just really exuded the role associated with Jack to me, ” Piccoli said. “He’s a young person living in New York that is definitely on the street. This individual just demonstrated us that will. ”

Call it the perfect audition. And it wooed the particular decisionmakers. It won’t be that simple in Los Angeles. Weskamp knows that. He’s can be keenly aware that he’s entering a business where he’ll fail far more often compared to he succeeds.

Still, he is betting on himself.

“That’s the game, ” he said. “You’ll get cast one out there of every 20 or 30 casting call. That’s just how it works. You’ll just audition, audition, audition and nothing will happen, but that 30th audition you might get cast. ”

You never know. Remember, Weskamp wasn’t supposed to be Jack port this week, either. It took someone seeing his potential and taking a chance.

“Hopefully, someone else will see what I bring to the table, inch he said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7391 or [email protected] com .

On Twitter @psangimino