LYNNWOOD — Katie Dreessen, a Meadowdale High School senior, is preparing for a career in theater. Growing up, most of her family was involved in acting and singing. She made her stage debut at age 5.
At Meadowdale, the 17-year-old sings in the jazz and chamber choirs. She has been active in community theater in Edmonds and Bremerton.
Dreessen has been keeping busy these days sending out college applications. That can be especially nerve-racking, she said, because her intended major, musical theater, involves auditions.
Question: So you’ve always been interested in acting?
Answer: I have been doing theater since I was 5. It’s really big in my family. My first show, I was in it with both of my parents. Both of my brothers did it. I have 14 cousins and I think like 10 of them also do theater … I just can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: Fourteen cousins? And most do theater?
A: That’s on my mom’s side
When I was in middle school, we did the entirety of “Les Misérables” in my grandma’s living room with all of my cousins. Not for anybody else — we just wanted to do it. We had people playing multiple parts. We had a backtrack of the whole show and we just did the entire two and a half hours of “Les Mis” … We would do murder-mystery games where we would write our own characters.
Q: How has your family shaped your interests or helped you along the way?
A: My parents met in choir. So, music has always been a huge part of my life and they both did theater when they were young as well. The reason I was in my first show was because my parents wanted to audition and they thought it would be a good chance for us to do that together, so it was “The Music Man.” We played a family in the ensemble. My brother also played drums. A lot of the shows I’ve done, I’ve done with my parents and my brothers. We listen to musicals in the car and in the house. We talk about Broadway news.
Q: You listen to musicals in the car?
A: Oh yeah. All the time. My favorite right now is “Newsies,” the Broadway musical version of “Newsies.” We have always loved “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” “Wicked” was one of the first ones we really listened to together.
Q: Do you have college plans?
A: I’m planning on applying for musical theater. Right now, it’s 15 schools. My top choice is Northwestern University (in the Chicago area).
Q: Do you gravitate toward certain parts or do you play anything that comes your way?
A: I like everything. I like comedic roles. I like dramatic roles. I like musicals. I like plays. Just about anything I can get my hands on.
Q: Are there other subjects you’re taking at school?
A: I’m also in jazz choir and chamber choir. Our jazz choir here, we’ve won a lot of awards and our director is incredible. Jeff Horenstein, he’s our choir and jazz choir director.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: I’m super into Shakespeare right now… What pulled me into it was seeing a really good performance. If you see an actor doing it well, then it just all makes sense. I’ve done a little bit of Shakespeare performance-wise, and it’s terrifying. But it’s so fun once it’s all put together and you realize that you’re telling that story. It’s so classic. It’s so important to the history of literature and theater.
Q: What’s your ideal path forward?
A: My plan as of right now is to go to school somewhere. I have a lot of options and they’re all over the country. I want to come back to Seattle (after college) because I love it here and my family’s here. There’s a great theater scene. There are a ton of arts opportunities, both in performance and in creating your own art.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who are maybe a few years behind you in school?
A: Just remember why you’re doing this. Remember, if you love something, you should do it in whatever facet you can. You don’t have to stake your whole life or your income on it. Just never stop making art if that’s what you want to do. And never be ashamed to love it and to appreciate it and to want to create it.