Growing Up On Stage


V. Novarro

Senior Via Novarro, performing in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” when she was fifteen years old

Kristin Taylor, Staff Writer

  As this school year comes to an end, seniors are looking back on their high school career as it comes to a close. For senior Via Novarro, that is looking back on her experience in theatre as an actress for performances at school as well as performances at the Old Town Playhouse. 

  “I’ve been in theatre since I was nine years old and now I’m seventeen. I have been in the theatre program at West since I was a freshman, and before that I performed at the Old Town Playhouse,” Novarro said.

  To Novarro, the theatre program is a community that she has been able to learn from and grow in. 

  “We’ve learned to solve problems, when something goes wrong on stage like someone missing a line or a set piece falls you just have to keep going and hope the audience doesn’t notice,” Novarro said.

  Novarro’s theatre teacher, Minda Nyquist, believes that theatre will have a very good impact on her students’ lives even after high school.

  “I believe it is a life skill to be able to talk to people and communicate, it teaches to have eye contact and use body language, being able to present yourself to the world is important. The theatre program gives you good skills for interviews and how to look at somebody and present yourself in a way that is confident and capable. Learning how to talk about how you feel and who you are is another big thing we try to work on,” Nyquist said.

  Nyquist, who is not only a theatre teacher but teaches stage craft as well, has known Novarro for about ten years.

  “I have known Via since she was seven or eight when she started coming in and doing plays at the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City and so I met her when she was just like a little baby, she was so sweet and cute. I’ve been one of her theatre teachers ever since,” Nyquist said.

  Because Nyquist has known Novarro for so long she has had the experience to watch her grow throughout the years as an actress. 

  “She was always a little spitfire, she’s never had a problem being on stage and singing or being the center of attention, but she has definitely gained confidence in that, especially as she got older. I think she had really come to who she is as a person and what she wants and I think theatre is a way for her to express who she is,” Nyquist said.

  As an actress Novarro is someone who is used to being on stage and having people watch her, but off the stage her life is the opposite.

  “In the outside world Via is kind of shy she doesn’t really take the center of attention in groups of other people she is kind of more of an observer and watches. But that also makes her a great performer, she kind of studies people and watches behaviors and then she can go on stage and sort of mirror that. She is really coming into her own,” Nyquist said.

  Senior Jackson Church has been in the school’s theatre program with Novarro for about two or three years.

  “I think that Via has always been a very good actress, I hadn’t worked with her too much until last year and this year, and this year especially she has put the show that we are doing on her back, there are scenes where she just drives the entire show, we would not be the cast we are without her,” Church said.

  Novarro always captures the attention of the audience and brings the performance to life. 

  “She just has a presence on stage that you just want to look at, the way she says her lines and the emphasis she uses on certain words just makes it look and feel like she’s not even acting, she puts herself into the character they become the same person,” Church said.

  Novarro is going to DePaul College in Chicago for film and screenwriting, which is the writing of scripts for performances. 

  “This fall we were supposed to do a play and she had a nice juicy part and then we went online and we were virtual the rest of the semester right before we were supposed to do our show. So we ended up recording the show virtually from everyone’s bedrooms, I remember watching her and telling her, ‘you are very good’ she has great facial expressions, she looks into the camera and it feels like she is looking right at you and I think she is going to be great in film,” Nyquist said. 

  At the end of her high school career and the beginning of a new chapter in Novarro’s life she ends this chapter with hope. 

  “I hope to lead a fulfilling life, I think that’s everyone’s goal, I don’t really have big plans, I just hope to enjoy it and figure it out as I go,” Novarro said.