I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Ondreya.
Twenty one-year-old Ondreya Seahorn traveled from Kansas all the way to Minnesota State University to star in the last show for this year’s Highland Summer Theatre series.
This is not Seahorn’s first time so far from home. In the past she has performed at Paul Bunyan’s Playhouse in Bemidji, and now she is coming to Mankato to play Deloris Van Cartier in “Sister Act.”
The musical’s director, David Loudermilk decided to cast Ondreya Seahorn after seeing her perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, where she won the Musical Theatre Intensive for Region V.
“We saw her and absolutely loved her talent and decided to bring her in. I was just blown away by her,” Loudermilk said.
Seahorn competed against 200 other students and was selected as one of 20 finalists to attend a workshop and to perform in a cabaret showcase. Seahorn was recognized as the top performer out of all 200 students and was invited to compete against the winners from the other regions at the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Seahorn received the Open Jar scholarship, which allowed her to spend a week in New York City bettering her craft. She was able to attend Broadway shows, meet performers, get feedback on headshots and resumes, take dance classes and more.
“It’s just another really great opportunity that has been thrown my way,” Seahorn said.
After winning this regional honor and scholarship, she received a call back from Loudermilk, sent in a video of herself auditioning, and later was offered and accepted the role of Deloris.
“I thought it was just a really great opportunity,” Seahorn said. “It was kind of an honor for somebody to not know me very well, but trust me enough to bring me in.”
Seahorn started theater late in high school, and once she started doing it at the collegiate level, she fell in love. Currently she is pursuing a degree in musical theater, but that is not the only thing pushing her to succeed.
“I do theater for representation. I grew up and I didn’t really ever see myself on stage; I’m a person of color. The world has gotten better; it has become more progressive, but there’s still a ways to go,” Seahorn said.
With this mission in mind and travelling all the way to Minnesota for this show, Seahorn has had a great experience at MSU.
“My cast, the technical crew, David, everyone has been so wonderful and welcoming. This has been an amazing experience because of them,” Seahorn said.
The musical is based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which tells the story of a nightclub singer who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Deloris needs to go into witness protection in order to hide from her murderous boyfriend. She is placed into a convent where she feels out of place.
This musical comedy takes many twists and turns as Deloris helps to save this failing convent and church while avoiding a vengeful boyfriend.
“Basically her whole life is turned upside down,” Seahorn said. “She doesn’t really belong anywhere at the beginning of the show, but she finds her calling at the convent. The feeling of wanting to belong somewhere is kind of a universal feeling.”
“Sometimes the place where you least expect to fit in is where you fit in best,” he said.
Every day, Seahorn takes smaller steps to become closer to Deloris’s character.
“Deloris is a nightclub singer who believes in her dreams more than anything else. She believes in herself over everything,” Seahorn said.
Loudermilk has enjoyed watching Seahorn become closer with her character and has become close with the cast of 23, three of which are guest actors.
“The best part through all of this has been working with the cast. I have really just enjoyed every single one of them,” Loudermilk said.
This cast has a big job as they are also acting as the crew and performing all of the scene changes with the help of the backstage manager. Most of the actors also play 2-3 roles each throughout the show.
“There’s a lot of comedy, but there are also some beautiful lines. I think this show has a beautiful message,” Loudermilk said.
Sister Act runs July 9-14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ted Paul Theatre at the Earley Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $22 regular and $19 for seniors ages 65 and older, children under 16 and groups of 15 or more.