Stellar Student: Broadway beckons Matteson teen
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent December 29, 2013 5:28PM
Southland College Prep Charter High School student Morgan Brown, pictured at the August Wilson Monologue Competition on Broadway in New York. | Supplied photo by Ben Hilder
Updated: January 31, 2014 6:05AM
It isn’t often that a high school student gets to perform on Broadway, but that’s exactly what Morgan Brown did last summer prior to her senior year at Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park.
Brown, 17, earned an opportunity to perform on a Broadway stage last year when she took first place in the Chicago Metro August Wilson Monologue Competition, which featured a field of several hundred high school speech and theater students.
Brown earned a $500 prize, a partial scholarship to the University of Illinois-Chicago and an all-expenses-paid opportunity to compete in the national finals on Broadway at the Fifth Annual August Wilson Monologue competition at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City.
Students from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle performed short monologues of their choosing from one of 10 plays written by the late, legendary American playwright in Wilson’s namesake theatre on Broadway.
During the weekend, Brown and the other finalists had an opportunity to interact with well-known Wilsonian veterans and special musical guests who performed, served as judges or were guests. Among the celebrity judges was Pauletta Washington, Denzel Washington’s wife.
“The experience was ... breathtaking,” Brown said. “We got to visit the stage the night before and ‘Jersey Boys’ was being performed there. Seeing the stage with the lights was incredible. I shook at first to think I’d be performing there the next day. It was breathtaking. Words can’t explain it. It is an experience I will always cherish.”
Speech is Brown’s forte. Together with another Southland College Prep senior, Alexus Newson, she earned the school’s first Illinois High School Association championship when they took top honors in the Dramatic Duet Acting performance category.
Prior to that win, the duet took first place in the regional tournament held at Southland College Prep and then placed second in the sectional tournament at Reavis High School, which sent them to the state finals.
Brown also placed second in the Oratorical Declamation event of the IHSA regional for her interpretation of “A Case of Severe Bias.”
Independently, Brown also qualified to attend the National Forensic League National Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., in June, which drew more than 120,000 students from around the world.
“It was a great experience,” Brown said. “As a whole, there was a competitive environment yet everyone was open to learning from everyone. Even though we were not the national champs, I felt like a winner.”
Brown said her parents, April and Mozell Brown, of Matteson, are her mentors.
“They are my backbone,” she said. “They are there when I fall. They are there to help me get back up. They never let me give up. They always know that I had more to give so they have pushed me in the right way. They’ve never been overbearing or too strict. They always said. ‘You are going to get up and keep going.’ ”
In addition to speech, Brown is a member of the National Honor Society and Interact Club. Because she is an honor student at Southland College Prep, she’s taking part in a research study to aid Governors State University’s transition from a two-year school to a four-year program. Brown, along with other honors students, are providing feedback on honors programs for incoming freshmen and sophomores.
“They feel like we have more hands-on experience and know what that class will want,” Brown said.
Last week, Brown learned she’s been accepted by a prestigious Ivy League school and plans to take advantage of that in the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
“Originally I thought I would pursue a law degree but this past year at Southland has opened me to so many opportunities and horizons that I reflected on and decided to follow a business career,” Brown said. “I’m thrilled to be accepted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, for it has all that I want in a university.”