As a child, Micah Lawrence had familiar dreams of becoming an international superstar. Lawrence took inspiration from Michael Jackson, performing to the singer’s songs in their living room while growing up. Lawrence’s many years of dedication to the singer paid off when they were given the chance to show off some of Jackson’s signature moves on the stages of cities throughout the eastern United States.
Lawrence, who uses they/them pronouns, is a junior acting major at the University of Northern Colorado. In late February, they joined the national tour of ”Motones and Jerseys: In Concert,” which features performers locked into a musical battle, singing songs from recognizable 60’s artists like Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys and The Temptations.
Though Lawrence has dreamt of performing on a national tour, they weren’t expecting to do it at this stage in life. The opportunity to audition for the show came as a surprise when they received a text about the opportunity during the first dress rehearsal of “These Shining Lives” on February 7. A few days later they were cast in their first national tour. Then began the process of learning all of the show’s songs and choreography, which Lawrence had little time to do.
On February 20, “These Shining Lives” closed, and by Wednesday, Lawrence was on a plane to Nashville, Tennessee. They only had three official rehearsals before heading out, but say they spent between 20-25 hours individually rehearsing in the days leading up to the show.
Lawrence participated in two sections of the tour, performing shows in cities from Florida to Michigan.
“All of these states that we’ve been to are places I’ve never traveled to before,” Lawrence said. “I had never really spent any time near that, like, Midwest region – never really spent a lot of time getting closer to the East Coast, and so it was like, on top of getting to do a show that I have so much fun doing with people that I really, really enjoy, I’m also seeing parts of this world that I’ve never seen before.”
Lawrence’s enjoyment of the show partially stemmed from its unpredictability, which is uncommon in most plays and musicals. Performers were able to take some artistic liberties with the show, inserting riffs or bits to engage the audience.
“It’s not done the same way every single night,” Lawrence said. “Everyone brings something new to a performance like that. So I never knew what I was going to do. I never knew what any of the other Motones, or the Jerseys or the emcee was going to do.”
Although being cast in a national tour is a great accomplishment, it wasn’t quite enough to get Lawrence excused from all of their school work. Before and after performances, on tour buses and airplanes, they had to do homework and prepare for quizzes just like any other college student. Though it’s been stressful to move their energy away from school and other commitments at home, they say having the chance to perform has been worth it.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I know that I can focus and be dedicated to my studies when I need to be,” Lawrence said. “I needed to soak up every ounce of the experience that I could because I truly don’t know the next time I’ll be able to do it and not with just this show, but with any other tour, or with any other professional production or any other general production. I don’t know the next time. And that’s the scary part of this industry is you never know when you’re going to work again… why waste the time stressing on what comes next, and just live in the now. And that’s what I’ve just been trying to do a lot.”
Due to a need to return to school, Lawrence was unable to finish the full national tour. Their final performance was March 23.
As the school year comes to a close, Lawrence is preparing for their next job, which will be another Motown-themed show at an amusement park in Ohio.
Reflecting on their time in the theater, Lawrence says they’re extremely proud of where they’ve made it in such a short time.
“I was a rookie in theater my senior year,” Lawrence said. “My first show was three months after I turned 18, so to be in the position that I am and now of having professional credits, of having all these networks, getting to travel doing this… and even here, like I’m not a musical theater student and I’ve been in two mainstage musicals. That’s something that I don’t think has been done very often, but I know what I want to do, and I am proud of myself for not letting what is considered the norm in terms of training, in terms of levels of experience, deter me from where I know my path is because I know that this is all that I want to do.”