When Lauren Landman K’18 steps onto the stage this summer with the Barn Theatre School for Advanced Theatre Training in Augusta, MI, she will be no stranger to performing. At K, the theatre-psychology double major from Novi, MI, has played Juliet in “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet),” Chris in “Carrie: The Musical,” and Daphne in “Bad Jews.” She was the Spotlight Operator for “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” as well as the Dramaturge and House Manager for “Learned Ladies,” and the House Manager for “Sketch-e-Etch.”
“I’ve loved everything that I’ve done so far,” Landan said of her experience with theatre at K. “Every show, no matter what role I’m playing or whatever position I’m taking on, it’s a learning experience.”
Her favorite roles, she said, were Chris from “Carrie: The Musical” and Daphne from “Bad Jews.”
“[‘Bad Jews’] was really eye-opening for me because I am a Jewish girl. So it helped me reconnect with religion,” Landman said, and added that Daphne was a challenging character to play because there were many monologues to remember and recite quickly.
Although the sophomore has been involved with the Theatre Department from the moment she stepped onto K’s campus, her acting career started long before.
“When I was little I always loved playing dress-up and acting out stories and movies,” the actress said. “I was obsessed with Disney princesses… I grew up watching ‘Annie’ and ‘Peter Pan’ and things like that.”
When Landman was six-years-old, her parents brought her to an audition for “Annie,” but she was told her wasn’t allowed to audition because the cut-off age was seven. But she persisted, she said, and her father persisted, and eventually she was allowed to perform and was cast as Molly.
“The stage has been my home ever since.”
She took a break in middle school, but continued acting in high school. She got her first lead—Sandy from “Grease”—when she was a sophomore in high school. But she only had the opportunity to stand alongside her fellow cast members for one performance because 20 minutes before the second, her appendix burst. But this setback didn’t stop Landman from acting, and she went on to Marian from “The Music Man” at a community theatre.
“That’s what made me fall in love with acting again because after the ‘Grease’ experience [I had to] take a step back, reevaluate myself, remind me of how much I love it,” she said. “Yes it’s a sucky business and things don’t always go as planned because it’s a hard business to break into but it’s worth it… I would rather go through my life trying to do theatre because I’m passionate about it, even if it’s hard, then go through life not pursuing what I’m passionate about.”
Landman, whose celebrity idol is Idina Menzel, said that the best advice she was ever gotten was from the actress who played her character’s grandmother during her first professional show: “to find success, not only in theatre but in everyday life, you need to have two things. First, the skin of a rhinoceros and the second is a backup plan.”
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you need to be tough and you can’t take everything personally because there will always be people who are better than you,” Landman said. “Or you may have a kickass audition but you are just not what the director is looking for… But if you get one in every 100 auditions, you are doing something right.”
As a performance apprentice with the Barn Theatre, Landman will be an Equity Membership Candidate, and joining EMC will give her the opportunity to be in a group that Broadway and “all the big names” hire their actors from, she said. Although she explained that she knows she won’t be a lead at Barn, she will be very happy to be in the ensemble of any of the shows.
“You can’t be the lead in every show,” Landman said. “You can’t knock the person who got it down. You need to be supportive of each other.”
You can look for Landman in upcoming Festival Playhouse Productions.