Gonna go for it: talented ERHS stage trio plans to pusue show biz careers

Jordan Grzybowski was right in his element as a song-and-dance man in "White Christmas." (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Three of ERHS’s most prolific music and theatre performers of recent years – 2011 graduates Jordan Grzybowski, Rachel Wagenpfeil and Mike Anderson – plan to pursue careers in entertainment.

“When I first came here, I took a Teaching of the Craft seminar from Phil Bologna,” said Grzybowski, referring to the school’s theatre director. “We learned how to do a swordfight, and improv, and things like that, and I thought, ‘Wow! I would really like to do this for a living.’ “

Gifted singers Gryzbowski and Wagenpfeil capped their high school days by winning the Starfest talent contest May 25, accompanied by three friends on instruments. Both plan to attend Columbia College in Chicago and major in musical theatre.

Rachel Wagenpfeil sang at the county fair in 2010. She won her division and went on to place second at the state fair. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“My ambition is to make it to Broadway,” said Grzybowski, a goal echoed by Wagenpfiel.

“Columbia is very well known for musical theatre,” said Wagenpfeil. “It’s a really cool arts school, and Chicago is up-and-coming in theatre, like the new New York.”

Anderson said he will most likely  attend Northwestern College in St. Paul with a major in films and a minor in theatre.

“I will try a few things,” sad Anderson, a standout singer, actor and dancer in ERHS productions. “I would like to direct mo vies, but we’ll see where it goes.”

Grzybowski graced 11 plays in the last four years, most notably in the musical ‘White Christmas” as Bob Wallace last December, “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as Bottom in 10th grade, and the competition one-act drama “Mike’s Case” as a troubled teen as a junior. He also directed a non-competition one-act play this year and closed with a sensitive portrayal of the German professor who wins Jo’s heart in “Little Women.” He made his Elk River Community Theatre debut last summer as Rolf in “Sound of Music,” and has a role this summer in the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre musical “Assasins.”

Grzybowski lived in Perham through seventh grade and made his debut there in community theatre as Chip in “Beauty and the Beast.” At  ERHS he has enjoyed far greater theatre opportunities. He also anchored of the media team’s news program, and was  the school’s lone state qualifier in Speech this year.

Grzybowski, a tenor, and Wagenpfeil, a soprano, sang “Dog Days” with their group “Jordan G and the Fruit Detonators” at Starfest,  winning in a strong field of 12 acts chosen from 47 who auditioned,  Grzybowski said the group is thinking about entering the country fair in hopes of making it to the state fair.

Wagenpfeil has gone that route as a solo — she won the county fair contest in her age group last summer and placed second at the state  far, singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

Wagenpfeil has appeared in seven ERHS plays, with her favorites being “White Christmas” as Martha, the hotel owner, and “Cinderella” as step-sster Joy. She excelled in mothers roles in two dramas this year, the one-act play “The Cowbird” and  “Little Women” (a musical version), the ERHS finale for all three actors.

She started at five with Bologna at Lyric Arts in Anoka and did a Guthrie Theatre play at nine, as Glenda the Good Witch in “Wizard of Oz.”

Mike Anderson romanced Kelsey Rausch in "The Cowbird." (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Her involvement in music is more extensive than Jordan’s or Mike’s, as she has been in the ERHS choir for four years, and in Eileen Bowersox’s Command Performance choir for three years, including trips to Orlando and Chicago for contests. And she danced with PS Dance Studio for 13 years.

The slender and darkly handsome Anderson has appeared in nine plays the last three years, finishing up this year as song-and-dance man Phil Davis in ‘White Christmas,” as Otto in “The Cowbird” (a demanding role as a rising Nazi officer who finds out he has a Jewish birth mother) and Laurie in “Little Women.’ “

He was impressive in dancing scenes with with ladies in both “White Christmas” and “Little Women” which showcased his leading man potential. “I don’t really dance much other than in plays,” he said. “It takes a lof of work! But that was really fun.”

Anderson produced the media team’s newscast and sang in the ERHS choir. He is lead singer in a stylish group called Intrepid that was impressive in Starfest although not one of the three prize-wnners. ‘”We hope to perform some more, and maybe write some music and record,” he said.


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