Letter from the Mother of a 2011 Destination Broadway® Student

When Erin was 5 years old her Dad and I took her to see Mary Poppins . She told us that day, as she pointed to the young girl on the stage, that THAT was what she wanted to do. We haven’t looked back since. I enrolled her in drama classes for young kids- which are hard to find as many do not exist for 5 and 6 year olds. At age six we found Applause Theater, as they were the one place in town that would give her a chance despite her age. After one acting class there, one of their Directors cast Erin as “Lucy” in their Broadway Series full length production of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” At the time their minimum age for their shows was 8. Erin was hooked.


Erin is always asking me “what is the next step”. I learned about Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), in Houston, the largest venue in town for professional theater. Their minimum audition age was 8, but Erin was allowed to audition at age 7, and was accepted. Of course by then Erin also knew about Broadway and was always asking me how she could get there. I told her I would research camps up in NYC to maybe be able to give her a taste. Of course again the obstacle was her age. I could not find a “Broadway” camp which she could attend at such a young age; until I found Destination Broadway®.


DB’s age minimum was 8, still the youngest I could find, and although Erin would be 7 at the time of audition, by the time of the camp she would be 8. I contacted DB and tried to arrange for them to come into town for an audition at Applause Children’s Theater, for whom I was now on the Board. I knew there would be many kids wanting to audition and figured we would all benefit in the end. Jim Haas graciously agreed to fly into town and see our kids, including Erin.


I will never forget the moment when Michael Rafter talked to me after Erin’s Destination Broadway® audition and said, “she could be on Broadway”. Of course as her mom I always believed Erin to be talented; and my deal with her has always been as long as she is having fun, and as long as those who know of what they speak affirm that she in on the right path, we will continue. However, to have the DB people come into town and hear her, and tell me that, well, I’m thinking that may just be a moment that changed our lives forever.


So off we went to Destination Broadway®! And what an experience it was. Erin was in heaven. From being surrounded by kids that love what she loves, to the amazing experience of having camp in a REAL Broadway rehearsal studio taught by actual Broadway professionals, to going to a show and having a talk back with Sutton Foster, to the special treatment in the NYC Capezio store, and topping it all off with a performance on the campus of NYU…..WOW, I could not have written myself a more perfect way for Erin to become completely convinced that she had found her calling.


And as a parent, how appreciative I was for the seamless running of the Destination Broadway® camp. From hotel accommodations and transportation to the meals for the kids and every detail beyond, we could not have had a more perfect time.


Finally, for the part of Destination Broadway® that became the biggest factor in our lives. During the camp some of the kids were pulled out by Michael Rafter to sing for a few of the Casting Agencies in NYC. Erin sang for Patrick Goodwin (currently casting Annie) and Merri Sugarman of Tara Rubin Casting (currently casting Les Miserables). When Erin decided she wanted to audition for Annie on Broadway, having the resources of Jim and Michael to advise me on the best way to do that, helped immensely. Erin ended up auditioning at an open call in Omaha, NE. Eventually she was called back to NYC, where we again met up with Patrick Goodwin. Long story short Erin in the end was one of 13 girls considered for the role of Annie, and to have already met Patrick, and to have Destination Broadway®’s support behind us, helped our nerves immensely.


Then came the biggest call of all. Merri Sugarman’s office called us and asked for Erin to submit a video for Little Cosette. Merri remembered Erin from her Destination Broadway® audition and apparently had been keeping her in mind. We sent in the video and then were asked to fly up to NYC where Erin sang for Merri and the Les Mis production team in person. The first thing Merri did was come over to Erin and ask her “do you remember singing for me last summer?” which of course Erin did. Erin sang for the group and we left the studio. Thirty minutes later I received a call from Merri offering Erin the role for the National Tour. Erin and I could not stop jumping up and down and screaming right in the middle of Times Square. What an amazing feeling; how proud I was of my little girl, and how thankful I was to have found Destination Broadway®. We celebrated with tickets to Godspell and as many Baked-By-Melissa tiny cupcakes that we could eat.


I have just started receiving all of the paperwork for our new adventure. Erin is due in Boston, MA, March 19 where she will join the tour. Eighteen cities in six months; seeing the country, doing what she loves to do AND they are going to pay her!!! Erin is a talent, but talent without the right opportunities runs the risk of never flourishing. Opportunities are what Destination Broadway® has given us and we will always be grateful to Jim Haas and Michael Rafter for that.