Megan Schwartz, a Cazenovia High School senior, will attend the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU this fall. Tisch is one of the top performing arts colleges in the world. (photo courtesy Megan Schwartz)
Megan Schwartz has been enamored of musical theater for as long as she can remember. The Cazenovia High School senior started performing in shows in elementary school, with an early goal of attending NYU (New York University) and someday performing on Broadway.
Last month, her dreams came true. After years of hard work and intense dedication to her craft — and making through a highly selective application process — Schwartz was accepted to attend the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for her undergraduate degree in musical theater.
Tisch is internationally recognized as one of the preeminent centers for professional training in the performing arts in the world, and its acceptance rate for freshman is typically about 26 percent, according to estimates from industry websites. Entertainment industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter ranked Tisch Drama one of the top five undergraduate Drama programs in the world in 2016, and, as of 2017, the school had more alumni working in Broadway theatre than any other school for theater in the United States.
Notable alumni from the Tisch School include popular celebrities such as directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee; actor, writer and director Woody Allen; and actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Angelina Jolie.
“I was very excited, overwhelmed, and so ecstatic and in disbelief [at being accepted],” Schwartz said. She applied to seven other schools, and was accepted at more than one of those, but NYU is where she was determined to go.
To apply, Schwartz spent one year preparing her pre-screening application, which was a video of her performing two songs, two monologues and a dance number. After submitting that and being accepted to continue her application process, she then had to be accepted academically into the program. Following that acceptance, she then traveled to NYU to audition in person, again with songs, monologues and a group dance number with other applicants.
Schwartz was notified of her acceptance into the freshman class last month, she said.
“We are thrilled for her,” said her parents Erick and Kate Schwartz. “This has been a part of her life since we can remember. We are so happy she gets to pursue what she has always dreamed of. She’s going to be great; we are very proud of her.”
Schwartz has been performing since elementary school, starting with shows such as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cats.” She performed not only in Cazenovia school district shows, but also in Syracuse Children’s Theater, Syracuse Opera, Manlius Musical, Red House Arts Center and Binghamton University. In summer 2017, she was accepted into a three-week musical theater program at the University of Michigan.
“I always knew I wanted to go into musical theater … I felt like that’s what I was called to do,” she said.
Closer to home, Cazenovians will remember Schwartz as the lead female role of Peggy Sawyer in the CHS Drama Club’s performance of “42nd Street” in 2017, and in 2018 she played the lead female role of Billie Bendrix in “Nice Work if You Can Get it” — a role for which she also received a SHSTA nomination for outstanding performance for actress in a lead role.
Schwartz is currently president of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, sings in the high school concert choir and chamber choir, and plays flute in the wind ensemble. She is a member of the Mock trial team and a member of the National Honor Society.
Schwartz will leave for New York in late August to move in to her new school. But before she goes, she will perform in the Manlius Musical “Legally Blonde” in July.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.