As an actor, Lincoln-Way East senior Ryan Smetana has taken on a number of characters through his career. Now he's auditioning for another lead role: the top high school actor in Illinois.
Ryan Smetana, of New Lenox, was recently named one of 24 finalists for Chicago in Broadway's Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards.
He's one of 12 men who will audition Monday for a final spot and a trip to Broadway to mentor with professional actors. One of the 12 female finalists will also go.
On Monday, he'll perform a number from Jersey Boys with the other finalists, and then he'll have a private audition with four judges. At the time we talked, Smetana said he's leaning toward performing "76 Trombones" from Music Man, the musical he was the lead for at Lincoln-Way East.
Patch: How did you got started in theater?
RS: I was in sixth grade in Frankfort Founders Center comedy class. I always grew up watching The Three Stooges and The Simpsons, so I thought maybe it’d be fun. I got the rough basics of acting and comedy.
It was nothing special, but my parents said I did a really good job and said I should continue on with it. Then I did my first musical, which was Oz. I got involved with more community theater stuff and then did it in high school
Patch: What's your favorite thing about it?
RS: You’re almost becoming a whole other person. You get to be somebody you don’t normally get to be. You get to explore different realms and your own personality, and have fun in the process. It challenges you, but the harder the challenge is and the more you work toward it, the greater it is in the end."
Patch: What's your favorite performance that you've been a part of?
RS: Sophomore year at Lincoln-Way East we did Into the Woods, and I was cast as Cinderella’s Prince. The musical in general was fairly intense. There were a lot of difficult pieces. And it was one of the smaller casts I’ve had the pleasure of working with. The people were really close-knit and excellent performers. Throughout the process we struggled to get the show togeher, but we finally got it down and it was such as great achievement.
Patch: What are you looking forward to with this audition?
RS: I've never been to New York, and winning this would be going to Broadway and working with people there for an entire week. Hopefully I can get to that point, but if not I’m just really excited for this experience on Monday.
I’ve gotten the privilege to see Jersey Boys a couple years ago, and that cast is the people I’m going to be working with on Monday. I thought that was phenomenal and I would love to work with them. The music in there is classic, and they just have a lot of fun.
Patch: What's next in your theatrical career?
RS: I'm attending the University of Illinois and studying theater. I’m going to continue on musicals. They have an annual musical, so I’ll still audition.
I’d like to eventually be a professional actor of some sort, whether it’s roles in plays, or I could take dance and music classes. Right now I’m just going in with an open mind and seeing where the path takes me.