Recent Amity grad and high school musical theater veteran Alli Kramer, of Orange, hasn't been able to watch her most recent star turn. But that's okay with her -- she lived it.
She's been in Ireland since the last weekend of August, studying at the Dublin Business School as part of a freshman Study Abroad program at Northeastern University. So she's been too busy to catch the special three-part miniseries "Broadway or Bust," currently airing on PBS, in which she was one of 60 performers described as "the best in the country" to compete at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.
Her turn in the national spotlight came after a star turn in Legally Blonde this year brought her victory at the Connecticut High School Music Theatre Awards.
"I was never in such shock as when I heard my name called," she said. "I wanted that part so bad I dyed my hair for auditions, just to show how committed I was to it." Kramer is still blonde in the PBS special -- to document the event, PBS cameras trailed her and other participants constantly.
"It's not going to be a big deal, they said," she says. "You'll never notice it, they said."
But she did -- and they were everywhere. While she was talking with friends, eating, practicing, preparing, going from place to place.
"They'd always catch me at awkward times while i was eating," she says. "And I'd think, I should have said something different."
The cameras added an extra layer of tension at all times, but performances were especially trying, she says. Kramer is front and center in the students' group production numbers, the lynchpin of the show.
"A lot of the audience is very forgiving compared to a video camera, which is there forever. If you make a mistake onstage, the audience will forget about it. But if you're on camera, they're going to remember and they might show a replay. When I was singing, it made me nervous to have a camera in front of me. It was intense when I was singing in front of the judges -- it's kind of like American Idol in that way."
Alli's enjoying the weathered buildings and bridges of Dublin for now, but she can't imagine a life outside of theatre. At Northeastern, she'll focus on business with a musical theater minor. She says it will allow her to remain within the world, even if she's not always on stage. But she's sure she'll always be drawn back.
"I really do have that dream," she says. "I love the people in theatre. It's a different breed of person. You make friends easily, there's no judgment. I love performing. It's so rewarding. I love having an audience."
If you'd like to be part of Alli's audience, parts two and three of Broadway or Bust air on Sunday, September 16 and Sunday, September 23 at 8 p.m. ET -- or 1 a.m. Dublin time. Previous episodes can be viewed at the series' web site.