By Kimberly Ortiz
For many students, college is a way of finding themselves while at the same time looking for future job opportunities based on their majors. For others, like Carolina Sanchez, a senior musical theater major, the opportunity comes more quickly than they could imagine.
Sanchez has recently returned to Rider after playing the role of Rosalia and understudying Maria in a national tour of West Side Story with the Troika Entertainment production company.
The opportunity first arose when Robin Lewis, professor of dance, got Sanchez an appointment to audition with the show’s casting director.
“When I first met Carolina, there was this light that surrounded her,” Lewis said. “Not only is she talented, funny, and gorgeous, but has a warm, giving and caring soul.”
From there, her voice teacher, Mariann Cook, was able to assist Sanchez in singing her high C’s, as well as learning the music from the musical to prepare her for the audition.
“Every teacher here is so supportive,” Sanchez said. “You tell them, ‘I really want this job,’ and they will help you as much as they can for you to get that job.”
Rosalia is a comedic character who Sanchez could easily embody. She portrayed Rosalia the same way she would be if she were around her friends.
“Playing Rosalia was so much fun,” she said. “I got to just be myself. It didn’t even feel like work. It felt like I was just joking around with my friends every night.”
The main role of Maria, however, was a bigger challenge. As an understudy, Sanchez had to sit in on all of the rehearsals and take notes on what the director would tell the principal actress who was playing Maria.
The first time she took the stage as Maria was also her first time in costume navigating the set with the actors who portrayed the other two main roles, Tony and Anita.
“It was a lot to handle,” Sanchez said.
She went on as Maria about 50 times throughout the tour’s 255-show run.
Traveling across the United States, especially to big cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, was a great experience for Sanchez. The company traveled by tour bus, stopping to do the show. They went back to the hotel to sleep, and woke up early the next day to travel to the next city.
“It was very tiring on your body,” she said.
Tour stops in each city were short, although some could last up to a week depending on the city.
Sanchez has high career aspirations and hopes that this performance will boost her résumé and give her the opportunity to stand out from others.
“I think it’s going to help me in the business aspect because Rider really prepared me for rehearsals and auditions and getting the character in my body,” she said.
Lewis noticed a positive shift in Sanchez’s outlook toward her future career goals.
“This year, returning from the tour, you can tell Carolina is very focused on her dream and is very driven,” Lewis said. “I am looking forward to her achievements and know there will be many.”
When giving advice to young performers, Sanchez said they should be as unique as possible when auditioning for a show.
“Your goal, when you get the sides and song, is to look at it and think, ‘What is something I can do that no one else will?’” she said. “‘How can I make them remember me?’ You just have to do the best you can do and be as prepared as possible. That’s the only thing you have control of. You don’t know what the director is going to want.”
She advises students to stay optimistic and to not get disappointed if they do not get the job they wanted.
“There is a job out there for every single person,” she said. “You just have to keep auditioning and take all the no’s and just keep trying.”
Although she will graduate this May, Sanchez’s experiences are continuing at Rider. She is still focused on perfecting her talent, especially her dance skills.
“It was a great experience, but now I need to go back and keep learning because I have so much I want to improve on,” Sanchez said. “I can learn every single day.”