Brooke Willse Selected As Semi-Finalist Playbill Contest

Willse was one of 30 semifinalists in the “Search for a Star” contest


Catherine Vivongsy, Senior Reporter

Playbill, a monthly U.S. magazine for theatergoers, hosted a nation-wide contest, “Search For A Star,” in hopes of offering grand theatrical opportunities to aspiring musical theatre performers.

Throughout a span of four weeks, hundreds of thousands of submissions were entered, from which several were picked to be published as highlights for the contest. Out of the numerous submissions, junior Brooke Willse was honorably selected as a highlight.

As Willse’s video submission got accepted by a variety of panelists, ranging from Broadway actors, directors and casting agents, Willse’s enthusiasm was uncontainable.

“My heart went to the very bottom of my toes, in a good way!” Willse said in an email. “Immediately, I began shaking, and then soon enough, basically sobbing out of excitement. I yelled out to my mom and told her I got featured, and she hugged me. I then called my best friends, some of which were just excited for me as I was.”

Willse believes her diligence, pure passion and an old favorite were what put her into the spotlight to be accepted among thousands of people.

“It took me two whole days of recording to get the cut I submitted. I sang my favorite musical theatre song to sing ever, “What Baking Can Do,” from “Waitress: the Musical,” Willse said. “I think I stuck out frankly because of how hard I worked and how much of a perfectionist I was with it, but also because I chose a song I loved and truly connected with so much emotionally.”

After Willse’s highlight was published in Playbill for her talent to be displayed, Willse expressed the importance this has for her theatre career.

“Along with a huge moment of validation, it was also a huge exposure,” Willse said. “Videos from the highlights got reposted and advertised on other social media, and my video was reposted by North Carolina Theatre, which was such great exposure.”

During the pandemic, opportunities for performers to present themselves is unlikely. Therefore, Willse’s gratitude for her highlight goes beyond exposure.

“With the school musical being canceled and all the other artistic works I was involved in not being able to go on because of COVID, many performers didn’t receive the validation in their art, which is the main thing keeping us going,” Willse said. “It made me feel, in the most hopeless times for performers, that I have what it takes to become one.”

Regarding her theatre career, Willse is not definite on how she will approach it in the future. However, she is definite she will hold on to her passion with bright hopes.

“Musical theatre truly is my first love and my biggest passion. I’m at the age where I’m debating what my future holds, and what I should pursue,” Willse said. “And although I’m not certain it will be my future, I’m almost dead set it will be in my life in some way.”

Here’s a link to Willse’s video on the Playbill website: