Town Talk Features

Student Standouts: 12.4.19

anna gassett ▶ cor jesu academy (’19)

Anna Gassett is no stranger to a little song and dance. The recent Cor Jesu graduate is studying musical theater at Texas State University, and with 20 Muny shows under her belt, she has plenty of experience in the St. Louis theater scene. This summer, Anna traveled to New York City, where she took home the prize for best dancer at the Jimmy Awards, a national competition that recognizes musical theater performances by high school students.

How long have you been dancing?
Since I was 2 years old. Dancing always was my main thing, and I had a lot of opportunities to pursue it growing up. I started at Professional Dance Center, and when I was 9, I did my first show at The Muny. That really sparked my interest in musical theater, and I wanted to explore more of the singing and acting side of performing. My dream is to be on Broadway after college, but it takes more than strong dancing to get to that level!

What is your favorite part of performing?
I love entertaining other people and seeing their joy. Theater was created to spread a positive message, and today, a lot of performances are about making an impact on society. It’s very exciting to think that I could be part of something that could change the world.

Do you have a favorite role?
My senior year, Cor Jesu did 42nd Street, and I played the lead, Peggy Sawyer. That’s the performance for which I won Outstanding Lead Actress at the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards, and it allowed me to go to the Jimmy Awards. Because of that success, it’s a role that I’ll keep close to my heart for a long time.

How were The Jimmy Awards?
It was the experience of a lifetime. I met so many interesting people from across the country with such a passion for performing. We got to work with Broadway professionals, and I had a one-on-one with the choreographer of Wicked. It was awesome to spend a week in New York, and performing on a Broadway stage is something most high schoolers don’t get to do. It was an incredibly positive and inspiring environment.

You’ve also competed at the International Dance Organization world championships.
The last two years, I’ve competed for jazz and modern dance in Warsaw, Poland. It’s a unique experience, and you get to see the level of talent that exists all over the world. We’re often sheltered from what’s going on in other countries, and it’s incredibly inspiring to see what other cultures bring to the table. It was amazing to be part of Team USA, and we did very well in the competition. I’m proud of how we performed.

As part of its sponsorship, Sport Court has made a donation to Dancers Against Cancer on behalf of Anna.

Pictured at top: Anna prepares for the Muny’s 2019 production of Footloose.

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