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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

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The University Star


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TXST Musical Theatre alumni “breaks a leg”

Photo Courtesy of Lu Chavez
Paul Amrani poses on the steps of the Quad, June 2022, at Texas State University.

From staging musicals in their backyard to training as a professional ballet dancer, Paul Amrani, Texas State musical theatre alumni, recently landed a position as a dancer with the 2023-24 national tour of “Chicago the Musical.”

Amrani said their musical theatre career began with watching musicals at the local theatre in Iowa City, the Hancher Auditorium, which inspired them to tell their parents they wanted to be a dancer. Soon after, they enrolled in ballet classes at 3-years-old.

When Amrani was in fifth grade, Amy Phelps, Ph.D., Amrani’s mother, said Amrani began writing a musical called “GOLDEN!,” which was born out of songs written by Amrani.

“[His friend] would write the lyrics, and then he would figure out a melody,” Phelps said. “We staged that whole musical with some of his friends, and they performed it at his school, and he performed it in the backyard again [and] raised more money for the children’s hospital.”

Amrani’s love for dance eventually began to grow into a love for musical theatre after transferring out of the Houston Ballet Academy back to public school in their senior year of high school, where Amrani began auditioning for musical theatre programs around the country.

“Texas State wasn’t on my radar at first because – coming from the ballet world – I was really only auditioning for the couple of schools that I’d heard of,” Armani said. “Then one day, I was binge watching videos of ‘Legally Blonde The Musical’ on YouTube, and I found the videos on the Texas State YouTube channel…I [realized], ‘I have to be auditioning for this.’”

After getting accepted into the musical theatre program at Texas State, Amrani said what drew them in were the unique resources available, such as networking, mental health resources, budgeting lessons and more. Once they were in the program, Amrani said it helped them figure out who they were beyond their identity as a dancer.

“I can’t even believe that I got to go [to Texas State],” Amrani said. “I think the biggest things that I learned were not just how to sing, dance and act [because] that obviously came along with the major, but it really helped me grow as a person and as a human, not just as an artist. I feel like I really came out of my shell in my time at Texas State.”

Kaitlin Hopkins, founder of the Texas State Musical Theatre program, said Amrani was dedicated to giving back to the program and the community through helping support incoming freshmen as well as giving tours of the facilities for prospective students.

“Seeing the students [succeed] after graduation is so rewarding,” Hopkins said. “There is no better feeling than knowing you contributed to students being able to do what they love and achieve the level of success they deserve after years of commitment to their craft.”

After graduating in 2022, Amrani made the move to New York and began auditioning for jobs while working as a barista at Starbucks.

“From my senior year to when I booked ‘Chicago,’ I went on over 100 auditions,” Amrani said. “You’re just showing up or submitting videos into the void. That can be really taxing because it would be nice to have a concrete answer. But when that ‘yes’ does come around, it feels really special, and you can’t take it for granted at all.”

Phelps said it’s amazing to see Amrani succeed in landing a position with the tour, especially after watching the amount of time put into the audition process over the past year.

“He’s put so much time and energy into it,” Phelps said. “He’s a smart kid, and he could do so many things. I think he’ll probably go towards directing later, but it’s really fulfilling to see them so happy and doing what they like.”

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