The Route to Carnegie Hall: Practice, Practice, Practice!


Contributed photo

Mills 2020 graduate Jamie Lapierre performs on the stage of New York’s storied Carnegie Hall.

Savannah Duursema, Contributing writer

Rushing across streets, bolting down avenues, a long, black, ruffled dress held up by two clammy hands. Lyrics running in her head, as her feet struggle to keep up on the race to 57th Street and 7th Avenue. 

Jamie Lapierre graduated from Mills in 2020, and since has dived right into the world of acting, auditioning for dozens of shows a week despite knowing nothing will come out of most of it.  

This past summer she sent in her audition tape for the Music for Change benefit concert, not thinking much of the opportunity amongst the countless others. 

On the organization’s webpage, the contributors explain that “We are a student led 501(c)(3) international not-for-profit. Our mission is to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive Arts spaces.” 

The show was planned to take place in a famous performance space, where many well-known singers and artists have held concerts, from Judy Garland to the Beatles to Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews. Even Elton John and Frank Sinatra graced the stage with their presence. To perform there is to prove you are a star.  

As noted on the celebrated stage’s website, it “has set the international standard for musical excellence as the aspirational destination for the world’s finest artists.” 

Kristyn Treggor, who is a chorus teacher at HarBur Middle School and Lewis Mills, related, it “is one of those venues that, as a singer, is the epitome of professional performing. People go there to see tasteful and legitimate performances, so if you get to sing there… you must be doing something right.” 

Ms. Treggor taught Jamie from 5th grade all the way until she graduated high school as a singer in the school choirs.

Treggor reminisced about a specific instance from the 5th grade when the chorus class was asked who would want to try the solo in the song they were learning. Immediately, the group volunteered Jamie Lapierre, knowing she had the talent and the bravery to attempt the challenge.  

Treggor explained, “Jamie was always a hard worker and driven, and she absolutely LOVES to sing. It doesn’t surprise me at all” that she was given this opportunity. 

Sarah Allen, a Spanish teacher at Lewis Mills who directed the three musicals Jamie performed in, shared a similar opinion with her colleague.

During her freshman year, Jamie danced and sang alongside the huge ensemble that made up the Legally Blonde cast, Ms. Allen explained. Then as a Junior and Senior she filled the auditorium with her smile that, according to her director, “could light up the room or the stage” while playing Sister Mary Robert in Sister Act as well as Margaret in 9 to 5.

“Her strengths were her dedication, and she always came to rehearsal ready to work with a positive attitude,” gushed Ms. Allen. After hearing about Jamie’s honor, she was impressed but, just as Kristyn Treggor expressed, not shocked by the distinction. 

Even her peers felt this way.  

Mitchell Arel, a recognized actor and singer in the school productions, who has shared the stage many times with Jamie, “could not be more excited for her” expressing that, “she absolutely deserves this”. 

He described the excitement he felt when finding out she would be going to college for musical theatre, knowing she would go far, but never imagining “she would accomplish those things she was destined to in such a little period of time.” 

So, what did Jamie do that was so impressive? 

Where did she perform? 

If you ever ask a native of the area how to get there, you will surely be told, practice, practice, practice! 

…. even if you were just asking for directions. 

Many months after submitting her audition tape, Jamie was chosen to perform at the Music for Change concert which occurred at the distinguished Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

Jamie performed the song “Someone Like You from the musical Jekyll and Hyde alongside a pianist that had graduated from Juilliard. When asked more about her song, she clarified, “I was only allowed two minutes on stage so I had to make a cut in the middle of it.” 

“The people that worked backstage were really hyping us up and saying that they only let ‘the future, current, or past stars perform here’ which was really nerve racking but exciting,”  Jamie said. 

Once she went into “perform mode,” as Jamie called it, and focused on her task at hand, she was able to sing her heart out. Although, she did admit, “When taking my bow, it felt like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.” 

While juggling two jobs, and the responsibilities of being a college student at American University, Jamie’s life is full of chaos, but she is still finding time to fit in her dreams.