Andrew Schulien: A Star is Born


Priyal Patel, Co-Editor

The lights in the theater dim slowly, leaving the audience in a void of darkness. The rustle of the curtains can be heard as the audience squint to see a faint outline on stage. The spotlight is on and focused on a star taking his place center stage. Junior Andrew Schulien has made himself known as a rising star at Warren Township High School and his passion and enthusiasm for his craft has allowed him to do so. 

The roles Schulien has taken on this year have been some of his proudest achievements. His most notable one has been joining the cast of the Illinois Theatre Association’s Shrek: The Musical. Mr. Miller, a theater teacher here at WTHS, encouraged Schulien to audition knowing that he would be a perfect fit for such a grueling, but fulfilling process. Schulien was casted to play a Dulocian and a tap dancer. Learning the tap routine was one of Schulien’s favorite parts of his performance.

Being casted was no easy feat. It took a lengthy audition process to get him to land the part. He had to prepare both a monologue and a song of his choosing. 

“A few weeks later a call back list came out,” said Schulien. “I believe there were like 350 people who tried out and 90 people who got in.”

One would think that after being casted there would be a cool down process, but the work started to pick up. Once a month, on every three-day weekend, Schulien would go in for twelve-hour practice at Downers Grove South High School. Schulien performed at the high school once in December before taking on the Illinois High School Theatre Festival at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in January. At UIUC, they rehearsed all week from 8 AM to 10 PM for their six shows which included the open dress rehearsal.

“I learned how to perform a lot better and what it was like to be in an actual professional show,” said Schulien. 

Schulien’s love for theater will not stop after high school. He will be continuing his theater career in college. He is planning to apply everywhere across the country from University of Michigan to the highly esteemed NYU Tisch School of the Arts. 

“I want to continue theater. I want to go to school and get a BFA in music theater. Hopefully make it onto Broadway,” said Schulien. 

One of Schulien’s defining characteristics is his care and compassion he has for the performers that surround him. His hopes and dreams do not stop with himself, but carry over to his Shrek cast as well. He hopes to have a full circle moment where they can all see each other performing on Broadway. 

Outside of Warren Theatre and IHSTF, Schulien has been a member of STEPS Performing Arts Center for the past seven years. After moving here from Round Lake, Schulien decided to join STEPS where he found support in an incredibly talented staff who have helped his on stage presence grow. 

“I’ve been part of their competitive company for four years,” said Schulien. “I compete in tap, hip-hop, and music theater.”

His work ethic also has not gone unnoticed by his close friends or his teachers. One of his closest friends from school and STEPS Sophia Pas has seen him take on roles with care and level-headedness that comes with being a nurtured performer. 

“He works at home to be well ahead of schedule when it comes to shows in order to be prepared as early as possible. It is impressive to see him memorized well before we need to be off-book,” said Pas. 

Ms. Zimmerman, a theater teacher who has worked closely with Schulien, has seen him grow as a person on and off the stage. Zimmerman believes that Schulien’s genuine nature is what makes him a better performer on stage and an incredible human off stage. 

“Andrew has grown in stage presence and vocal ability. His voice has matured and it is wonderful to see him start to own his roles through his voice. He has also grown in his ability to lead others,” said Zimmerman. “It’s easy to give him feedback as he wants to continue to refine his craft.”

When looking at himself as a performer, Schulien believes that he is able to set himself apart from others because of his versatility. He is able to do all the fundamentals of singing, acting, and dancing with the ability to push himself into fitting his parts.

“For the ILMEA choir I was a bass, but for Shrek I was a tenor,” noted Schulien when looking at his vocal range. Image preview

Schulien recently performed as the notorious con artist and leading man Dmitry in the WTHS production of Anastasia. He was able to show off his versatility here playing a character that is notably quite the opposite of himself. 

“It is a challenging role for him as Dmitry is not an honest person. Dmitry is grittier and a con man and Andrew is very honest and sincere. It will be exciting to see him play a character that is anti-type for him,” said Ms. Zimmerman. 

Dmitry was one of Schulien’s dream characters to play on stage. When auditioning he made sure to put his all into it and hoped that he would be casted. Being the incredible performer he is, it wasn’t fate that brought him the role of Dmitry, but unbridled talent and effort that did. 

It is incredible to see someone like Schulien have his career path figured out at such a young age. There is no way to stop such a force of passion from achieving and pursuing his goals. For now, the Broadway lights are waiting to invite this star to take his place center stage.