Local performer and THS senior accepted into prestigious University of Michigan program
Tecumseh High School (THS) senior Jordyn Norkey has had her eye on Broadway ever since she was a little girl and watched Beauty and the Beast in New York City.
“I remember turning to my mom and saying, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Jordyn recalls of that first experience with Broadway. “Musical theater is my passion. It always has been and I feel I have enough determination and motivation to actually succeed in it.”
Another path has just been cleared, advancing Jordyn toward her goal by some major steps. She was recently accepted into the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
“This is an exceptionally elite program, and certainly one of the most difficult to which a student can be admitted,” said THS Choir Instructor Alex Sutton, who is a U-M graduate himself. “Jordyn is a very bright and talented girl and she’s going to represent her hometown well during the course of her professional career.”
Jordyn said her acceptance is still “surreal,” and she can hardly believe it’s happening.
“To be accepted into this program is something I have wanted and worked for since I was 13 years old,” she said. It was her first choice for college, although she also applied and auditioned at three others. She’s been practicing for the audition she’d hoped she’d get for almost two years, getting tips from Sutton and her long-time voice coach, Michael Yuen who is not only a graduate of the program, but was a part of the national tour for Godspell.
She filled out the U-M application in October, and submitted a pre-screening audition which was a DVD of her singing two songs, two monologues, and a dance number.
“I didn’t even know if I’d get a live audition,” she said. “There were something like 800 applicants this year, and they only invite the top two percent to audition.” But Jordyn was selected to come to the campus for a rigorous day of auditioning. She sang “Will He Like Me?” from She Loves Me, and “Nobody Does It Like Me” from the musical See Saw.
“Those are the two songs I’m most familiar with and I’ve been practicing them for a long time,” she said. She also had to do a monologue, learn some dance steps from the musical Kiss Me Kate, and sight-read music and play it on the piano. Jordyn learned that participation in a University of Michigan Theatre Camp called Impulse took on more meaning than the great experience she believed she’d obtained from attendance one summer. Faculty who were evaluating the students asked her questions at different times such as how she felt she was incorporating what she’d learned from the camp.
“I think being involved in Impulse was a real advantage for me,” she said. “I also felt this was the greatest audition I’d ever been a part of.” She said she was simply enjoying the moment — something Jordyn seems to do naturally.
After the auditions, the announced two-to-three week wait began. Jordyn said one day when there was no school because of bad weather, she was completing scholarship applications and checking her Impulse web page when she noticed fellow participants were reporting their rejections from the U-M auditions. So she began checking her own status throughout the day, eagerly awaiting news.
“I had to go rehearse for Seussical that night, so I tried not to think about it, but then while I was there, my phone was on silent, and I discovered a missed call and it had an Ann Arbor area code,” she said. She was unable to contact the caller that night, however, and had to wait some more. She was on pins and needles, not sleeping that night, and the next day she finally connected.
The U-M advisor said it was a tough decision, but informed Jordyn she’d been selected and they felt she was “right” for the program.
“I tried not to scream in her ear, but when I hung up I screamed so loud I think my brother thought I was being murdered or something,” she said. “I was ecstatic and it’s a relief to know where I am going.”
As a youngster, Jordyn appeared in several musicals at the Croswell and with Tecumseh Youth Theatre. There was a time that her family was ready to move to New York so she could pursue her art. After meeting with an agent four times, however, Jordyn said she was told she was too old for the kid’s parts and too young for the adult roles and should come back when she was 16.
She’s not at all unhappy with the way things turned out, however, because in the subsequent years, she was able to combine her love of theater with her love of sports. Jordyn made the junior varsity volleyball team as a freshman and varsity in her sophomore year. She is co-captain this year and the team has won districts for the past four years.
“These have been good years and I have no regrets that it worked out this way,” she said. But at the same time, she is ready to take the next step, since her dream of performing on Broadway is still alive. Her all-time favorite musical is Secret Garden.
“I played Mary when I was in the 8th grade. I love the music and it’s so great it brings me to tears, and the storyline is amazing,” she said. She also has been influenced by the actress Daisy Eagan who played the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award at the age of 12.
Jordyn said her parents Shawna and Scott, have been amazing in supporting her goals throughout her childhood and youth. “They even dragged my brother, Payton, to every show I was in,” she said.
One of the things she looks forward to, aside from the day-to-day excitement of studying in U-M’s prestigious program, is what happens during senior year. The students put on a senior showcase and it is produced at a theater in New York.
“They bring in different casting directors and agents and people in the business,” she said. It’s an opportunity to network, show their talents and abilities, and possibly get connected with future employment.
“Broadway remains my main goal,” she said. “It always has been. I would just love the opportunity to work with people there as passionate as I am about musical theater. And I know I can achieve that after four years at the University of Michigan.”