Tamaren makes stage debut at Muny


At least it’s not as hot after midnight. If you’re wearing a full-skirted dress with a petticoat underneath and a wig on your head, the heat is no small concern. So, for local Muny Equity dancer Carlye Tamaren, who has performed in this summer’s High School Musical and 90 Years of Muny Magic, the rehearsals that begin after midnight and last until 4 or 5 a.m. have an upside. After all, since she is only at the beginning of what she hopes will be a long career, she knows the sweat and fatigue will pay off when she enters the University of Michigan’s Musical Theater Program this fall.

“I started dancing when I was 13,” Tamaren, a congregant at Central Reform Congregation, said. “Before that, I was a gymnast and I really liked the performance aspect of it, so I was like ‘I think I want to be a dancer.’ I always did the musical at my high school and I kind of just decided that I was interested in musical theater. I grew up watching all of them. Last summer, I went to this dance intensive program in Colorado, and everywhere I went, I just kept getting dancing roles in musicals, and then getting singing and stuff like that. It all just happened. Musical theater was a combination of everything I liked: dancing, singing, and acting. It meant I didn’t have to choose.”


Though she performed at the Muny in 2002, she had no intention of auditioning this year until a friend suggested it the night before. When she was offered a place in the company, she committed to ten, intensive days of rehearsal before each show. Since the musicals run back- to-back, there is no time or space to practice on the stage until the previous set has been cleared. Thus, the infamous midnight rehearsals, which run until the cast and crew get through the show perfectly.

“I think the Muny, and I didn’t even realize this when I auditioned, is one of the most prestigious places for summer stock. And I’ve just kind of, you know, learned how it goes. Behind the scenes, with costuming and everything. You’re around just such a high caliber; it’s been eye-opening for me to see what really goes on. There are a lot of really great theaters in the area but the Muny is just really, really professional,” Tamaren said.

Since she is the youngest of the Muny crew, the more experienced performers like to give her advice about succeeding in the business. All of them tell her to go to school, and advise against just going to New York without any degrees in hopes of “making it.” Since Tamaren, who graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in May, had already undergone the rigorous application and audition process, their experiences reassure her that she has chosen the right path.

Tamaren hopes it also reassures her parents, who have come to see both shows. Her younger cousins especially enjoyed High School Musical, based on the Disney movie that has become somewhat of a cultural icon amongst preteens.

“They think it’s hilarious because I have to wear wigs the whole time, so they think it’s funny to see how different I look. It’s crazy for them, especially for my parents to be like ‘Oh wow, you’re actually going to do this!'” Tamaren said.

In 90 Years of Muny Magic, she has met many of the stars who have traveled to the Muny over the past few decades. Their successes have reaffirmed her desire to continue with musical theater after college. Eventually, she hopes she will end up on Broadway.

“I’ve never done anything of this high of standards before, and the second show for me has been a really big challenge because the dancing has been so intense. You’re expected to pick it up right away and have it perfect. It’s made me a better performer, but it’s been difficult. You have to learn to take criticism well,” Tamaren said.

Tamaren chose Michigan based on both its academic and artistic strengths. She plans to major in musical theater, but will also pursue a double major in a more traditional collegiate field. However, once August comes around, she thinks she will miss her summer friendships.

“I think a highlight for me has been the people. These are just the greatest people I’ve ever met, I think. It’s really, really friendly, like a whole family. Everyone’s been so welcoming. Even though I’m the youngest, kind of by far, it’s made me feel that I can do this. I can still compete,” Tamaren said.