An unexpected journey
Lawrence West, a freshman music and theater student from Austin, Texas, says if you had told him a year ago that he would be going to college in Georgia, he would have laughed at you.
“I hadn’t even heard of LaGrange College,” he laughs.
That all changed when he learned a woman in his home church has a LaGrange connection.
“Her sister is Dr. Toni Anderson (Coordinator of Music for the college’s Fine and Performing Arts Department),” Lawrence says. “Dr. Anderson and (her husband) Mr. Chuck got me interested in the music program here, so I came to visit. I liked it so much that I made my decision then to come to school here.”
The first-year student says he is very close to his family, and there were some qualms about going to college so far away.
“Dr. Anderson and Professor (Kim Barber) Knoll (Coordinator of Theater) are amazing people. They really put my mom at ease, and she feels like she can trust them with her son. It’s been a big adjustment for our family, but we’re getting used to it.”
It didn’t take Lawrence long to get involved on campus. He is a member of the LaGrange Chamber Choir and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
“Singing with the choir is great. At my first rehearsal, the choir’s sound blew me off my feet. Everyone is so well grounded and they know what they are doing. They’ve been so understanding, helping me out because I’m just now learning how to read music.”
After being involved in theater in high school, Lawrence decided to audition for LaGrange’s first show of the season, “Metamorphoses.”
“Going into auditions, I didn’t expect much. I’m a freshman, but I thought I’d at least have the chance to experience the audition process.”
To his surprise, he was cast. Most of the actors have multiples roles, so Lawrence will be playing Zeus, Erysichthon and a sailor.
“I feel very blessed with the roles I got. I think professors Knoll and (Tracy) Riggs (Assistant Professor of Theater) see a lot in people that they don’t see in themselves. They teach you to have faith and courage in yourself.”
Lawrence says the cast is made up of all kinds of students, not just theater majors. And he is impressed that freshmen are working alongside upperclassmen.
“It’s great to see everyone work together,” he says. “There are phenomenal people in this cast. Being able to watch them perform and see how they work with the director and each other is inspiring. We take our cue from the upperclassmen – it’s shown me what is expected of me when I am an upperclassman. They are all great role models.”
The inclusion of non-theater majors is wonderful, he says.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air to have different people who are involved in different things to come into the play. They go through the same process as you, and you see them grow and you grow along with them. It’s pretty amazing.”