“When you lose a part, it’s good to think like, ‘It’s just not your turn yet.’ As long as you keep trying you’re not failing.”
Alexa Lowrey ‘19 grew up with music. Her mother is a music teacher and her father is a professional bass player. For as long as she can remember, music has conducted her life.
She performed in her first professional musical in third grade. “I was in a production of Annie at the Patel Conservatory. I had such a good time,” she says. “As a cast we went to see one of the touring groups there at the same time and I thought ‘You can get paid to do this? I want to do that!’” So began her dream to be a Broadway star.
Lowrey started Tampa Prep in sixth grade–she’s what we call a “lifer”–and participated in Chorus and Dance as a middle school student, while simultaneously doing two shows per year at the Patel Conservatory. She played her first role in a Tampa Prep musical in eighth grade in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, where she found her tribe and her home.
Tampa Prep introduced the Arts Concentration in Lowrey’s sophomore year. Most students choose one Arts Concentration path from Band & Strings, Film & Video, Fine Arts, Theater or Vocal Music. But Lowrey was already taking all the requirements for both the Theater and Vocal Music concentrations as part of her normal schedule, so she received credit in both areas.
“The concentration helped me keep track of what I was doing,” she says. “The [concentration] track also helped me feel ready for college auditions and that whole process.”
Lowrey, now a freshman at NYU says, “I felt very ready for college and its courses. I could always talk to my counselor, Mrs. Leonhardt. She’s the best. It’s like a family. The courses I took and the support I received that junior/senior year were the things that led me to being successful here at NYU.”
Recently, Lowrey visited Tampa Prep during a break from school to record an audition. “The past week I’ve been applying to summer theater companies. I had to learn a dance from a video, and I choreographed my own tap dance. I was at Prep so I could record it before I went back to NYU so it’s out of the way.”
The summer theater internships she’s applying for are located across the country. Each one requires multiple levels of auditions, and each company wants something different, so there’s a good bit of strategy and work that goes into finding the right songs and monologues.
“Some companies have one show. Some have a whole season, and throughout the season you’re in every show. It’s a good way to get a lot of performance credits, but it’s a lot of work,” she says. “I’m still a freshman, I’m still young. But there’s always the fear of ‘Will I ever be cast? Will I have enough experiences in my toolkit when I go out and audition in the real world?’”
While visiting Tampa Prep, Lowrey was able to watch a bit of the rehearsal for the recent upper school performance of Chicago and visit her longtime mentors, Mr. Andrew Hoy (Choral Director) and Mr. David Mann (Theater Director) who have answered those questions for her many times over the years.
“You can tell they really care about their work and genuinely want you to succeed,” she says. “Mr Mann always talks about how it’s OK to mess up. He wants you to mess up because it shows you have courage. You have to fail to succeed.”
This is an important concept for any actor to grasp, but especially for Lowrey because not being guaranteed a role is new for her. As an actor in Tampa Prep productions, Lowrey always knew she’d get a part in any play she tried out for because, besides being phenomenally talented, the classes are small and parts need to be filled.
During the college admissions process, that obviously was not the case. “You’re going to these schools and auditioning, and you might get in academically but not get into the [theater] program,” she says. “Once you get that first rejection it’s just like, ‘Oh, that stinks.’ You realize they only accept 20 out of 1,000 kids, so you try not to let the whole thing of rejection–‘Am I good enough?’–get in your head.”
Lowrey didn’t get in everywhere she applied to college, but she got into many schools. She says, “I had to tell myself, ‘I may not get into this top school, but I still got into this great school. I should be proud of getting in! That rejection that started in the college process will be there throughout my entire life. It helped me prepare for the real world when real rejections come rolling in.”
Now that she’s passed the college entrance auditions, she’s working on getting cast in shows at NYU and she recognizes there are no guarantees, “so there is a lot of trying and failing,” she says. “When you lose a part, it’s good to think like, ‘It’s just not your turn yet.’ As long as you keep trying you’re not failing.”
When asked what theater means to her, Lowrey says, “It’s a vulnerable expression of yourself in front of people you’ve never met. It’s vulnerable to go out there and pour your heart and soul into some character that may or may not be like you.” She places value on the work because she recognizes that theater is a way for people to escape from their own lives, to see something in a character they might see in themselves or to provide a realization about something they needed to hear that day.
“It’s a good way to learn more about yourself while also teaching others,” she says. “They come to see you, and afterward they view the world in a different way.”
With passion like that, Lowrey is sure to realize her dream of playing comedic, dramatic and powerful characters on Broadway, including Natasha from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, one of her favorite shows. “Or I’d just be happy to make a living by performing,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be fame or riches, as long as I’m able to keep performing, do what I love, and make sure I get a family, a dog and am able to balance all aspects of my life.”