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TOTALLY EAST TEXAS: Megan Magill inspires a new generation of East Texas theater performers

Magill followed her dreams to NYC to become a working actress, singer and dancer. Now she's bringing a taste of Broadway to Tyler with her own productions.

TYLER, Texas — From East Texas to the bright lights of New York City and back. Megan Magill's love of performing started in Tyler with dance teachers who believed in her. Today, it's Magill who is inspiring a new generation of actors, singers and dancers at the Magill Musical Theatre Studio.

Their latest musical debuts on March 18 at Caldwell Auditorium in Tyler.

"Whenever I first entered the studio, I was very scared, because it was the first time I was ever getting actual acting training from an actress. I was like, 'wow,'" Jessica Carmona explained.  

"I was a shy kid," said Addison Dixon. "And right when I walked into Megan's, I was completely transformed." 

Creating, singing, dancing and dreaming! That happens daily at the Magill musical theater studio.

Artistic Director, Megan Magill knows what it's like to need to fulfill your greatest hopes and dreams. That's why after graduating college with a degree in musical theater, Magill performed in Grease. 

"My very favorite thing about working as an actress — once I booked the job, as much as performing, I love the process. I love rehearsing. I love developing a character. It's so therapeutic," Magill said.

And useful for the future, but Magill didn't plan to teach, let alone open a studio. 

"As cliche as it is, is when we started our family, we didn't want to raise our babies in the city and we wanted to be near family," Magill said. "And so, we moved back to East Texas, and I really didn't have any goals, or, frankly, any desire to do anything in the world of musical theater."

But plans change, often for the best.

"So it started small, it started by some very persistent friends that had young girls," Magill explained.

7 years, 6 productions and a pandemic later — Magill continues to be inspired by her cast of young characters to create original scripts like — Little Miss Sweet Potato, In my Room and her most recent, Long Story Short: The Musical. It's a dark comedy set in the '80's straight from Magill's imagination and childhood fears.

"Well, I use the fall semester to really study my students and then right before we break for Christmas, I start writing and my scripts are largely based on who's in my studio, and I try to choose characters for my students to play that they need to play. It's not often they don't realize it until after the fact," said Magill. 

But the best part, Magill says, is watching her students grow as people. 

"It's that rehearsing, it's all those tears and pushing through so many fears and insecurities," Magill said. "What I'm finding with my students is ... such openness, and a willingness to try anything. They'll just go for it, but around [junior high and high school, students become self-aware] and I feel like I'm doing battle with these young men and women and just pulling them through while you know, peers and contemporaries and the world is going  — 'what are you doing? That's weird.' and it's like, 'no, it's not come on, keep going. you can do this,'" said Magill.

Magill is currently helping 80 young actors of two casts find their light on stage and in life.

"She teaches me a lot about confidence. You know, if you're gonna play a confident character on stage, you better feel confident as yourself," said Carmona.

"Literally, I would not be who I am without her and she has changed my life," said Dixon.

So... Long Story Short — Megan is still dreaming, not just for her, but for all of the talented children who belong on the stage!

"Every time I see these kids on stage or I hear the band the musicians warming up or I go backstage and see them getting in their wigs, I'm just almost overcome with gratitude," Magill said. 

This Totally East Texas studio is pre-professional theater training. Magill says she has 10-15 spots that open up each year.

You've got 4 chances to catch Long Story Short: The Musical from Thursday night until Saturday.

For showtimes and tickets, click here.