Mariah Austin

Gig Harbor High senior has passion for live musical theater, plans to make it a career

April 30, 2014 

Mariah Austin got hooked on live theater performing when she was 9 years old. She took some classes when she was younger, and in high school became immersed in the school’s drama program. In addition to performing in plays, she’s involved behind the scenes nearly year-round.

“I love the craziness of live theater. There’s so much you have to do to get ready,” she said. “Then on performing night, it’s a ball of energy. It’s very rewarding.”

Her roles have included Liezel Von Trapp in the “Sound of Music” and Winnie Tate in “Annie Get Your Gun.”

“Mariah’s natural tendency to lead and care about the production was immediately noticed and she quickly rose in her role and responsibilities on and off stage,” said Gig Harbor High drama director Kristin Zetterstrom, who first worked with Austin in the “Sound of Music.” “Her ability to lead others, her intrinsic motivation to learn and excel in her studies and her ability to multitask has made Mariah an invaluable asset to our theater arts department at Gig Harbor High School.”

Austin has been described as a hard-working individual who mentors her peers.

“Her encouragement ... helps to bring them comfort in working on something less familiar to them and helps to strengthen the whole of the performance,” said Stephanie Pederson, who has choreographed several musicals at Gig Harbor High.

As co-director of the BareFoot Collective, Pederson also has watched Austin participate in creative movement workshops. “In the environment of these workshops, she gets to work with both professional and fellow students. Not only does Mariah rise to the challenges of these days, but she supports others with her encouragement and willingness to step outside her box and try something new,” Pederson said.

In addition to theater, Austin performs with the school’s vocal jazz choir and the Meistersingers. She’s also taken leadership roles with those groups, and with other school clubs.

“Having activities has kept my attitude more positive and has given me a reason to go to school every day,” she said. “I plan everything, almost every minute of every day. Because so many activities demand my time, I need to make an agenda.”

Austin plans to attend community college for a year and then pursue a musical theater degree at the University of Washington. Her goal is to become a professional live theater performer, and share that passion with younger students.

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