Singing to stardom

Senior Caroline Piper stood outside the doors, waiting nervously. It was almost her turn. Around her, people were talking, singing and reciting their lines. The room was buzzing with noise, but all she could think about was her audition.

Finally, they called her name. She went inside and stared at the panel of judges across from her. They asked her what she would be singing, but she couldn’t remember anything.

“I just blanked out and they asked me for a song title and I told them something that I don’t even remember,” Piper said. “I literally made it up.”

Then Piper started singing. She didn’t know what she was singing. But she just sang anyway.

Afterwards, she knew it was over. Her chances to get into Juilliard, the most prestigious music and performance school in the nation, were so slim. But singing a song that wasn’t even real sealed the deal. There was no way she was getting a callback.

“I thought ‘well, it’s over, it’s whatever,’” Piper said. “But then I got a callback. Someone said, ‘hey, your name is on the list. It’s Caroline Piper.’ And I was like ‘no way.’”

She couldn’t believe it. Out of the 186 people auditioning that day, she was one of the 17 that got a callback.

***

Piper has been performing ever since she was little. At Christmas, she would sing carols along with her family while someone played the piano. In middle school, she joined choir and band. She’s played French horn all through high school band, as well as continued with choir. She’s also performed in several school musicals and plays, including Bye Bye Birdie and Madrigal.

She’s always wanted to be a performer. That’s why she sent in her application to audition at Juilliard. She was approved, and soon she was flying to New York to audition to be part of their theater department.

“It was the best experience of my life,” Piper said. “I met so many different, cool people from all over the place. Just getting to be in the school itself was inspiring and also intimidating.”

In the initial audition, the judges had Piper sing and recite two monologues, one from a Shakespearean play and one from a modern play. After she got a callback, she was drawn first to audition again. She recited the monologues for the entire panel of judges, and then they interviewed her.

“That was intense,” Piper said. “They made it really chill, but I was more like, ‘oh my God, I’m sweating so much, stop.’”

After her audition was over, she got back on the plane and headed home. The judges told Piper that she would get an email in mid-February either inviting her to the final callback round or telling her that she didn’t make it. But there’s still more New York auditions, as well as the San Francisco, Chicago and international auditions. Piper said she realizes how great of a chance there is that she won’t make it.

“It was fun while it lasted,” Piper said. “But it’s okay, because I have a bunch of other college auditions.”

In fact, her next school of choice in Oklahoma City University. A friend she’s known since freshman year, Adam Hernandez, has been one of her biggest supporters.

“I think that’s pretty incredible that’s she’s able to nail these monologues and really get into it,” Hernandez said. “She’s really going all out to do whatever it is she wants to do.”

Plus, she’s also booked a Verizon commercial.

“A long time ago… I filled out this application for this agency group,” Piper said. “They called me and said ‘hey, we have reviewed your application and we want you to come in for a meeting and see if you’re interested in doing a Verizon commercial.’”

She’ll shoot the commercial at the beginning of March. She said that while it’s not anything big, it’s a beginning. Her ultimate goal is to be an actress. And she’s determined to get there.

“The top of the Christmas tree is to be on Broadway,” Piper said. “That’s it for me. But I definitely want to be a performer, whether it’s singing, acting, dancing, playing the piano, anything. I will be up there one day.”