Performing Under Pressure: Sophomore finds comfort on stage


Sophomore Avery Gray practices playing her guitar and singing after school in the choir room. Gray has been singing for many years but has just recently picked up the guitar. Photo by Austin Fultz

As the Royals season comes to an end, the fans place their hands on their hearts and remove their baseball caps for the National Anthem. Sophomore Avery Gray stands on the field performing in front of the largest crowd of her career.

“While I was singing, I could see myself on the huge screen,” Gray said. “It was nerve-racking because I kept hearing feedback in the stadium even though I had noise canceling headphones in.”

Gray had the opportunity to sing at the Royals game because of her performances at American Royal, which hosts horse shows and exhibitions.

Acting, singing and dancing have been Gray’s passions for as long as she can remember. She started taking voice lessons when she was 8. Her parents also signed her up for her first theater camp, Camp Center Stage, at age 6.

“Once I started talking, I started singing. From then on I became super interested in theater and dance,” Gray said.

Although Gray did try out for a variety of sports, she didn’t find the same passion as she has had for performing. Instead, she began dancing competitively at Le Dance company when she was 9.

“I just love performing. When I am in the moment, I just lose myself in the character. I’m not thinking about all the other stuff in my life,” Gray said.

For the past few summers Gray has participated in Theatre in the Park, a community theater production that takes place in Shawnee Mission Park. To be in the production, there was an audition process, and there are around five productions a year. Her favorite role was playing a Von Trapp kid in the production  of the “The Sound of Music.”

“When other kids are at the pool hanging out over the summer, Avery is going from theater camp to dance lessons to rehearsal for Theatre in the Park,” Mindy Gray, Avery’s mom, said.

During the school year, Gray has voice lessons on Monday, guitar lessons on Tuesday and dance lessons on Thursday. She also just started master acting classes on Sundays at the Coterie Theatre.

“I practice so much because musical theatre is something that I am very passionate about. I need to make sure that I know all of my material, so that I feel mentally prepared for performances,” Gray said.

Gray just started guitar lessons this year, so that she can pursue songwriting more seriously. She hopes to start recording the music that she writes.

“I have always written songs in my free time. I write about events that are happening in my life. Sometimes words or phrases will pop out at me,” Gray said.

From voice recitals to community theater productions, Gray has performed at a variety of venues.

“Thanks to hard work, perseverance and learning how to survive the extreme ups and downs of performance life, Avery is becoming a versatile singer and actor,” voice coach David Yoss said.

– Sydney House (Co-Editor-in-Chief)