Six graduating seniors at Pine Creek High School are entering the second act of their lives with a curtain-raiser normally associated with athletes.

In front of family and friends, the students on Thursday signed their acceptance commitments to colleges and universities — not as football or volleyball stars, but as actors and actresses.

“Signings are a well-known tradition in sports, and people don’t realize how much work goes into what we’re doing. We thought it deserved some recognition as well,” said Morgan Patterson, one of the students who came up with idea.

Students penned their signatures as a new twist at the end of the annual awards and recognition night for the school’s theater and dance group.

“We’ve never done anything like this. We’ve never had this many kids going into performing arts all at one time, so it’s really special,” said senior Jake Goodsell.

Getting accepted into a college to study musical theater or acting is an “extremely difficult road,” said Carrie Barnhardt-Roberson, Pine Creek’s drama director.

At the end of their junior year, students start auditioning at thespian events that draw college recruiters. Many students also go to individual campuses for follow-ups. Not only do the time, travel and expenses add up in search of an acceptance letter, Barnhardt-Roberson said, but unlike athletics, full-ride scholarships for theater types usually aren’t in the offing.

Senior Christian Robinson had a whopping 25 call-backs from different schools after auditioning at the Colorado Thespian Conference last December.

“I just love to audition — it’s a real thrill,” he said.

After carefully considering scholarship deals and programs, Christian picked the University of Northern Colorado.

“Surprisingly, it’s one of the top programs,” Christian said. “It has the most people on Broadway than any school in the U.S. And that’s what I want to do, be on Broadway.”

Pursuing a career in the performing arts is tougher than ever, Barnhardt-Roberson said, because there are more college graduates than jobs.

“You have to be extremely driven and passionate about what you’re doing and come to the realization that you can do nothing else with your life and be happy,” she said.

That’s the conclusion Jake arrived at, after meeting actors at Brigham Young University, where he will attend in the fall.

“I always wanted to do it for a career, but I never thought it was my lifestyle,” he said.

“At BYU, I met people that do it for a living and love it and can get jobs without compromising their morals,” he said. “I can do it, too.”

A lot of times, said senior Jeanette Hartsough, who will head to Milligan College in Tennessee to study theater, the arts get pushed to the side in favor of activities that are more popular. But Thursday night, the arts took the center stage for the Eagles of Pine Creek.

“Theater is so great because it’s a place where you can be yourself and get up on stage and experience new things,” Jeanette said. “It’s like a family — you can be weird and nobody judges you.”


Rylee Domann
College attending — Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
Major — Musical theater
Why Ball State — The school’s curriculum and great artists, and its connection to the real world.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek — Grease (fall 2012). We got two superior ratings in Colorado Thespian Society judging, the highest level, and a judge wrote that I was perfect in my character, Sandy. As a performer, rarely do you hear that word.
Why acting — It gives you the ability to entertain people and impact them.
Goal — To travel the world doing musical theater.

Jake Goodsell
College attending — Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Major — Acting
Why BYU — Religious preference, scholarship offer and strength of program.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek — Les Miserables (spring 2013) The part (Enjolras) was very demanding vocally, physically and emotionally. It was a very moving and passionate show, and I got to touch people, as opposed to getting up there and entertaining them.
Why acting — I encourage people to follow their dreams, and that’s what I’m doing.
Goal — Be a television or film actor, or a producer, casting agent or camera man.

Jeanette Hartsough
College — Milligan College, Northeast Tennessee
Major — Theater
Why Milligan — I knew the director and he offered me a scholarship.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek — Les Miserables (spring 2013) The entire thing was phenomenal. We played to sold-out crowds every night.
Why acting? This year is my 10th anniversary — I started acting when I was 8 in Peter Pan, and I just love that you can be yourself.  
Goal — Join the repertory theater next to my college and work full-time.

Morgan Patterson
College — Roosevelt University, Chicago
Major — Musical theater
Why Roosevelt — They have vigorous vocal training, musical theory and piano. To put myself in that city atmosphere and challenge myself and be with other actors and get that real-world training going will be great.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek – Grease (fall 2012). I was Rizzo, and it was an amazing cast. We bonded so well, and it was very exciting.
Why acting — My favorite part of performing is portraying the characters. When you get to play people who are so unlike you, you learn respect for all kinds of people.
Goal — Get into a theater group and be an active performer, maybe on cruise ships or Broadway.

Christian Robinson
College — University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Major — Musical theater
Why UNC — It has one of the top programs in the country.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek? Pride and Prejudice (fall 2010). I played the main character, Mr. Darcy, and we submitted it for international judging. I got superior ratings across the board from the judges. It was cool to get that kind of support from such a well-known group.
Why acting — I didn’t start acting until my freshman year and didn’t start to take it seriously until senior year. I love getting to perform.
Goal — Get picked for a national tour in college, be on Broadway, be a stage producer — or be a teacher.

Charles Stebbins
College — University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Major — Theater
Why UNC — I fell in love with it as soon as I walked on the campus.  I loved their theater department — I just couldn’t say no.
Most memorable theater experience at Pine Creek — The bows at the last show for Les Miserables (spring 2013). Coming off stage, I realized all the wonderful people I got to work with, how I will probably never work with them again and how much I will miss them.
Why acting — Theater is something to lose yourself in. Seeing the reaction and the impact of an audience is one of the most rewarding things there is.
Goal — I would love more than anything on the face of the earth to be on the stage on Broadway.