O'Fallon Progress

Prairie star hopes to shine on stage in the Big Apple

Meadow Nguy in “Spellbound.”
Meadow Nguy in “Spellbound.”

Meadow Nguy is headed to New York this fall, but her roots are firmly planted in O’Fallon.

The 2013 O’Fallon Township High School graduate earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater from Indiana University in May and plans to pursue a performing career.

This summer, she is busy appearing in summer stock and auditioning in NYC. She turns 22 in July.

She recently performed in Bloomington, Indiana, in the Cardinal Stage Company’s professional production of “West Side Story,” as Consuela and worked as the fight captain. At her alma mater in August, she is appearing in a musical by Brett Ryback called, “Joe Schmoe Saves the World.”

Meadow said she decided her path while a student at OTHS.

“I started to feel like it was something I wanted to do when I saw how theater could impact people,” she said.

At OTHS, she appeared as Emma in “Jekyll and Hyde” her sophomore year, Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” her junior year, and Velma Von Tussle in “Hairspray” her senior year.

“I was very blessed by my high school teachers and experiences. I was given many opportunities and support,” she said.

Playing Dorothy became a life-changing event, because in spring 2012, she won the Illinois High School Musical Theater Award. As the state’s best actress, she competed in the prestigious Jimmy Awards, which is like the Tony Awards for teenagers.

The National High School Musical Theater Awards, nicknamed for theater owner and producer James Nederlander, bring students from across the country to the Big Apple for 10 days. They go through a rigorous boot camp, learning the opening and closing numbers for the Competition Showcase at the Minskoff Theatre. They are coached by Broadway performers before they sing their number that won at the state level.

She sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on that Broadway stage. Students vie for scholarships and prizes, with only two winning the Jimmy Awards. While she did not win, the whirlwind week was unforgettable.

“It was definitely like none other. High School Meadow was flown to a city she’d never been and was given a lot of new experiences and information. It was a big wake-up call in terms of what I never knew I was capable of,” she said. “The experience of the Jimmy Awards itself was surreal. The week of masterclass, rehearsals, and coaching were amazing, and performing at the Minskoff Theatre was unreal. I am so thankful for that opportunity.”

A PBS documentary, called “Broadway or Bust,” included Meadow and showed the process in 2012. The awards recently produced the ninth-year event and are now managed by the Broadway League.

Before going to college, she appeared as Martha in “Spring Awakening” at Stray Dog Theatre in St. Louis, a regional professional theater. She returned in summer of 2015 to star as the female lead in the world premiere of an original musical “Spellbound.”

She also won a scholarship through the Fox Performing Arts Foundation’s Teen Talent Showcase in 2013. A semi-finalist, she was honored as the Capes Sokol Goodman Sarachan Musical Theatre Scholarship recipient.

In 2011, she won the Belleville Chamber of Commerce’s “Belleville Junior Idol” competition in the senior division, performing on the square during the Chili Cookoff.

Locally, she studied voice with Noel Prince and acting with Susie Wall and Lara Teeter.

After auditioning for several colleges, she chose the prestigious Indiana University program. Tony and Oscar winner Kevin Kline and Emmy-winning “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy are alumni.

Indiana’s program involves vigorous training in singing, acting and dancing. They only accept 10 to 14 students a year. George Pinney, an Emmy-winning and Tony-nominated choreographer, heads the program.

Meadow said she appreciated the individual attention.

“I loved my experiences at Indiana University. I had so many great learning experiences. All the staff and my classes were amazing,” she said. “It provided the perfect blend of self-growth and professional guidance. I am eternally grateful for my education.”

During the school year, the theater department produces two musicals and six plays, and during the summer one musical and two plays.

This August, she will play the role of Afarin, a Trinidad street artist, in a new musical that has undergone several workshops, “Joe Schmoe Saves the World.” After that, she moves to New York.

“I am so excited!” she said. “The IU alumni network there is pretty large.”

At Indiana, she worked with Leraldo Anzaldua, one of the premier fight choreographers in the business. The class in stage combat sparked her interest in furthering her skills.

“I was certified by him. He taught me so many amazing techniques, and this will provide more opportunities. I have an extensive martial arts background, so this builds on that training, too,” she said.

At Cardinal Stage Company, she capitalized on the stage combat training and was given more responsibilities for “West Side Story,” in addition to performing in the ensemble.

“Above everything, it reignited by love for the musical itself. I love everything about ‘West Side Story.’ All of it is still so prevalent to today, and performing it for current audiences makes everyone involved learn more and more every time,” she said.

Meadow has always been close to her family, parents Au and Alicia Nguy, and her sisters, Willow and Symphony. They have lived in O’Fallon for 17 years. Now her sisters are in other parts of the U.S., but they try to see each other when they can.

“They are the best! They are my rock. I have two beautiful and talented sisters. My older sister, Willow, is graduating from University of Nebraska Lincoln with her master’s in paleontology. My younger sister, Symphony, is continuing her second year at Purdue University in animal sciences in a pre-veterinary program,” she said. My family is most important to me above everything. I owe everything to them.”

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: Treat others how you want to be treated.

Q: Whom do you most admire?

A: My father — he has persevered through the impossible.

Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?

A: Abraham Lincoln. I’d love to just give him a hug.

Q: What is the last book that you read?

A: “Passing​”​ by Nella Larsen

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

A: Anything outside! I love to go running or hiking with my little sister, Symphony, and my dog, Meg. Nature is my relaxation.

Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?

A: My desktop is normally pretty clear except for my computer. I need to have a clear space to be focused enough to work.

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?

A: Ha, ha! Strangely, I wanted to be Jackie Chan’s wife doing stunt work and kung fu movies with him. Fortunately, that could never and will never happen.

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

A: I think my best trait is my drive. I am sometimes too passionate for my own sake.

Q: What irritates you most?

A: Closed-mindedness. I am most frustrated when people are unwilling to see beyond their own perspective.

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

A: Oh, I love all music. Every genre is different and unique! I enjoy listening to all types!

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I love making people think, making people feel something is what I strive for. Putting a smile on their face or making them learn something new gives me a lot of joy.

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?

A: I’d probably just travel and see the world. I want to learn and see everything about different areas and cultures of the world. I want to be aware of all kinds of people, problems and social issues. If I had the ability, I’d want to donate to charities and campaigns to help with social injustice.

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

A: Hah! Perhaps, I’d have Eva Noblezada ​(actress in “Miss Saigon”) play it.​

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?

A: Definitely, a machete. No doubt.