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Broadway Baby

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Tara Connick
During theatre’s 24-Hour PlayFest, junior Savannah Decrow plays a teen activist during the Kent State Shooting.

The quiet chatter of people as they entered the auditorium and the rustling of Playbills were amplified in freshman Savannah DeCrow’s ears as she waited inside the small house set on the stage. Her heart was pounding. The lights dimmed and the overture that she had heard countless times before began to play. A little ding cued her to step out. As she walked onto the stage, dressed in princess Belle’s classic blue dress and white apron, the bright lights hit her face and she stood in awe, taking in the electric feeling of looking at a sold-out crowd.

“I wanted to pinch myself,” Savannah said. “I couldn’t believe this thing that I had wanted and worked towards for years was finally culminating.”

Although playing Belle in the school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” was a dream come true, junior Savannah’s singing career dates back many years. Her parents are both musical themselves. In fact, they grew up singing in barbershop quartets and were raised by musical parents. Her dad, Steve DeCrow, is the head choir director at Lewisville High School, and her mom, Wendy DeCrow, sells music textbooks. When Savannah was a baby, her parents sang to her like many do with their children, and they quickly noticed that she had a musical talent.

Around Christmas, 16 years ago, Wendy was relaxing by the fireplace with a young Savannah laying on her lap as Kenny G’s rendition of  “O Christmas Tree” played in the background. Wendy noticed that Savannah’s chubby fingers were moving to the tune of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in a distinct pattern. As she began to observe her fingers movements, it dawned upon her that the melody of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” was the same as “Oh Christmas Tree.” Her one-year-old daughter had noticed that the first few notes of both songs were the same.

“That was one of the more memorable moments when I could tell that she had a musical gift,” Wendy said. “I never took it as something special until that moment.”

Soon, Savannah reached elementary school and starred in her first show, “The Princess and The Pea.” She began dancing and taking piano lessons around the same time. Savannah describes her childhood self as crazy and over the top. The term “drama queen” was quite literal for Savannah, which was often reflected in the roles that she received, from playing the genie in “Aladdin” to the evil stepsister in “Cinderella.”

Although Savannah has always loved being involved in the arts, her passion was ignited when she watched her first Broadway show. After seeing “The Lion King,” an 8-year-old Savannah turned to her parents and said, “I so could do that.” Wendy and Steve, both baffled by her unapologetic confidence decided to let her follow her dreams of becoming a professional performer.  

“With theatre, I felt something different,” Savannah said. “I felt this spark and I knew that I wanted to do this forever.”

When she was in fifth grade, Lewisville High School was looking for a child to play the narrator in their production of “Into the Woods.” Savannah auditioned, along with many other kids, and ended up getting the role. In an unexpected turn of events, the junior who played the part of  Little Red Riding Hood injured herself, and the production was left without one of their major roles. They asked Savannah if she could play Little Red and without hesitation, she said yes. She learned all of the blocking, dances and memorized the entire script all within one day.

Her mom admits that at first she discouraged Savannah from pursuing a career path that is so competitive, but after witnessing her determination, she let her do whatever it took to make her dream come true. Savannah started taking more dance and voice lessons while continuing to take piano despite not liking it. Soon enough, she started improving.

“She works hard, she cares and she’s driven,” Wendy said. “ I don’t know a person on the planet that is more determined to get better and do this than her.”

By the time Savannah was a freshman, she was a seasoned performer.  From being nominated for the best actress award by Dallas Summer Musicals to being one of the only people in the school to make the all-state choir, Savannah entered high school with a bang. Head choir director Wesley Davis explains that he knew about her even before she stepped foot in his class. He immediately noticed that she was passionate about performing and was also able to demonstrate empathy and leadership, which set her apart from other students.

“She has dedication, she has the drive and she has been gifted with a naturally beautiful voice that she has trained over many years,” Davis said. “She has a combination of things that are necessary to be exceptional.”

The big question that lays ahead for Savannah is her future. Her mom explained that musical theatre is a profession that depends on luck and timing, and those will be the deciding factors for whether she ends up on Broadway or pursuing her passions elsewhere. Both Savannah and her parents are practical about the likelihood of her making it but they are doing everything in their power to make sure that she has the tools to succeed. While the future is still uncertain, Savannah knows one thing for sure—performing will always be a part of her life.

“I can’t see myself doing anything other than theatre because it’s such a magical thing for me,” Savannah said. “My life without it is just bland.”  

 

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Broadway Baby