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A Spokane teen’s love for theater has him headed toward a bigger stage

UPDATED: Thu., July 26, 2018, 5:28 p.m.

At age 17, Brady Magruder has been a university professor, a high school basketball star, a con man and the president of Argentina.

Magruder, an incoming senior at University High School, has acted in more than a dozen plays at his school and in the community since the eighth grade. Now, he’s hoping to take his act to a professional level.

“What I love about it so much is that it’s telling a story,” Magruder said. “There are so many different ways to tell stories. I learned from the beginning that acting and embodying that story, and kind of living in it is my favorite way.”

This year, Magruder’s portrayal of Robbie Hart in “The Wedding Singer,” which his high school theater performed in May, was nominated by Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

But that nomination was soon to be superseded by a bigger success for Magruder. Two weeks later, he attended the International Thespian Festival.

“That was where the biggest thing in my life happened,” he said.

It started with his performance of the song “Michael in the Bathroom” from the musical “Be More Chill.”

“It’s about a geeky guy who is at a party with his best friend, and his best friend ditches him in the bathroom, and the song starts right there,” he said. “It’s a mix of humor, because he’s a geek, but it also has an emotional side.”

Magruder was called back to perform again, but the day of his performance things took a turn for the worse.

“I woke up that morning, and my voice was gone,” he said. It was “cracking all over the place.”

After a lot of vocal warmups, and some adjustments to the song, Magruder managed to finish his performance without much trouble. But he wasn’t expecting what came next: The judges chose his rendition of “Michael in the Bathroom” for the final showcase performance.

“I started almost hyperventilating,” he said. “It was so exciting to see my name among a bunch of other names that were just as, if not more, talented than I was.”

Magruder was chosen as the top Individual Event showcase of the year – first place at a conference of more than 1,600 students.

“It’s what I love to do, and it helped confirm that yeah, I actually am good,” he said.

Magruder didn’t always know he wanted to be an actor. He fell in love with acting slowly, he said, beginning with a childhood interest in superheroes. He would play the role of his favorite characters, and eventually realized that acting was what drew him in.

At age 6, his parents began enrolling him in drama camps. From there, he was introduced to drama teacher Briane Green, who would later direct him at University High.

One of Magruder’s first breakthroughs came when he played the 60-year-old Juan Perón in his high school production of “Evita” freshman year.

“He was such a goofy kid,” said his mom, Carrie Magruder. “He seemed like he would be the comic relief.”

But instead, Magruder took on a different, darker role as Perón that surprised his friends and family.

“It’s always challenging playing a historical figure,” Green said. “He really just owned it.”

That first big challenge catapulted Magruder further into the world of acting.

“I put a lot of work into it, and it really paid off,” he said. “I’ve always been that kind of guy. I like the challenge.”

Since then, Magruder has been in 14 plays, including his current production, “The Music Man.”

In it, he plays the con man Harold Hill, who’s trying to scam a town out of their money. But underneath, there’s always more complexity to Hill, Magruder said. The challenge of bringing those characters to life is what draws him in.

“When I did ‘Michael in the Bathroom,’ I entered into that world for five minutes,” he said. “It’s interesting how those five minutes can spread out and relate to so many people who have gone through the same thing.”

The teen actor has shown an unwavering commitment to perfecting his art, Green said, and has gone so far as to learn tap dance and get vocal lessons while also juggling Advanced Placement classes and running for the Associated Student Body.

After college, Magruder would like to pursue acting professionally, he said, although he expects his fair share of waiting tables while he auditions. Still, he’s hopeful about his prospects.

“He’s motivated to hone his craft as an actor,” Green said. “He’s super talented, but he also puts the work in and is an unbelievably kind and supportive human being.”

That support shines through in the community of friends Magruder has built in the theater community, said his mother.

“A couple of really scary things happen with suicides and (threats of) school shootings,” she said. Other times, someone might have a breakup or some other personal hardship. Whatever the situation, the friends are always able to lean on each other for support.

“They’re my second family,” Magruder said. “When people come together, and work and rehearse to make a final outcome, and everyone is working for that same message, it’s super cool.

“You build connections with those people whether you like it or you don’t like it, that’s just going to happen. You just have a newfound love for people.”

Editor’s note: The spelling of Brady Magruder’s and Carrie Magruder’s last names were corrected on July 26, 2018.


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