An Introduction of Sorts

by Bri Ryder

My current location is the bedroom I grew up in. During my last semester in college, my parents decided to do some painting and moved a bunch of boxes into it, so I’m living in what is half storage/half my own clutter. I’m a pretty messy person by nature, but I can’t really stand it. I told my mom that I want to take all of the things off my walls to create an “adult room” recently. I’m hoping that I can clean all of this out and maybe get a bed bigger than a twin since I’m kind of a little bit too tall for this one anyway. 

I should probably mention that my name is Bri Ryder (like Winona), I’m 23 years old, I have a BA in Musical Theatre from UNH Class of (Fall) 2015 (GO WILDCATS), I’m an alum of The Performing Arts Project Companies 3 and 4, and I graduated (graduated? I don’t know if that’s the right word but whatever, I’m using it) from The National Music Theatre Institute this Spring 2016! WOO! Lots of stuff. In addition to all that, my favorite color is blue - bonus if there is glitter involved, I like to knit but I can’t crochet, I’m somewhere between 5′10″ and 5′11″, I have a blue betta fish named Wilbert, I wear combat boots a lot, I love cheese, and the most vulnerable thing I’ve seen this week is Liz Longley at a piano that started to roll away as she was playing it last night.

I’m surrounded by many things in this room including, but not limited to: 

- Broadway posters, the oldest of which is Wicked because, well, wasn’t that the gateway drug for us all? I guess this coming generation of theatre kids would probably say Hamilton, but back in the day it was always Wicked. I don’t know what it was before that, Rent? Actually, Rent was one of mine, too. So maybe this generation will say Wicked AND Hamilton.

Anyway, Broadway posters. Check. 

- I have some posters and memorabilia from shows I did in high school like Rent (haha), Angels in America, and The Phantom of the Opera. My high school was pretty hard core. You can actually probably look things up about all three of those productions at Westford Academy! We were encouraged to take the arts very seriously in high school and I guess I did because I’m here now, still working toward a career in theatre. Someone actually left WA to go to a performing arts school once, and they came back because the training at Westford Academy was stronger. That’s a true story. And don’t be fooled by the name, we are very much a public school. It’s just an “academy” because back in the day (like, Paul Revere times, I’m not joking) it was a private academy for boys or something but the name is rad, so they kept it when it went all public. (I’d also like to acknowledge the fact that I’ve used the term “back in the day” twice already.) But it gives us a prestige we didn’t ask for and the opportunity to call our theatrical recognition ceremony at the end of the year the, “Academy Awards,” so it’s pretty cool, I think.

High school memories. Check.

- A very large Twilight poster I got for Christmas many moons ago. I don’t know what to do with it. So it’s there watching me at all times.

Cringeworthy old stuff. Check.

- A paper flag from 7th grade outlining my life goals. I will tell you what they are. (From short-term to long-term) 1. Get into Musical Theatre - This was a class in high school that we used to have to audition for. I think that by the time I got there, they just let everybody in but at the time I wrote it, they were still auditioning people. So I was hoping I would make the cut. But I did take the class! 2. Graduate High School - That, I did. 3. Get into Berklee - In 7th grade, I didn’t know that musical theatre degrees existed so I was planning to get two undergrad degrees: one in music from Berklee, and one in theatre from Umass Lowell, the only school I knew that offered theatrical degrees. It wasn’t until Charissa Murray from Youtube told me that MT degrees existed that I knew. Still, I did not end up attending either school. (I’ll talk about this later. Maybe next week we’ll discuss my college career. Because it’s a *long* story.) But! I ended up where I needed to be and that was the University of New Hampshire - I’m happy to say that I graduated in December 2015 YAS, WERK. 4. Play Elphaba in Wicked - This brings back the whole gateway drug thing. Obviously, this has yet to happen but I have faith. 5. Live in New York City - Incidentally, I have done this already! Hoping to get back there soon. And finally 6. Retire to a Tropical Place - My dad told me that performers don’t really retire. I now agree with him.

Cute goals from when I was a wee bae. Check.

It’s funny, though, because there is so much stuff on my walls and in this room but none of it is really current. [insert Kerrigan and Lowedermilk’s “How to Return Home” playing softly in the background] Who I am now is different from who I was and I’m having trouble becoming this full adult person. (Also, for the record, I hate when people use the word “adult” as a verb. Please, please, I’m begging you to stop.) So living here is weird! If I were to put some things from my more recent experiences on my walls, I would include:

- Posters from [Title of Show] all over the goddamn place. I would not be here, writing this blog for you right now if it weren’t for [tos]. It was the first time I felt at home in college and it brought me to The Performing Arts Project, which was a completely life-changing experience and led me many other places. I can literally credit every good thing happening to me to being cast in Title of Show. (Shout out to Kim, Joe, Kayleigh, Garret, Taylor, Jake, and Kaitlin)

- TPAP memories! All my TPAP pictures are on the internet but they belong out in the world where people can see them. Or at least in my half-storage facility bedroom where I can. TPAP also led me to The National (Music) Theatre Institute, where I’ve been for the last semester. Music is in parentheses because I was technically part of the NMTI program, but everyone just refers to everyone as NTI, so that’s what I do, too. That program deserves its own post.

- NTI stuff should be here, too. But I can’t even really get into that right now because it was so overwhelming. I’ll talk about how it relates to America’s Next Top Model in the weeks to come. It’s fascinating. I have a *great* theory about it.

- The Girls of Suite 5E. You haven’t heard my college struggles yet, but I found family at UNH and that certainly includes the beautiful women I lived with in a Suite in Serc C that I named 5E. Brooke, Carol, Lyndsey, Amanda, Tori, and Sara. (Technically, I never lived with the latter two, but they lived in Suite 5E before and after I was living there and are just as much part of that family.)

At this time in my life, I am doing many things and not many things. I am still living at home (obviously), recovering from NTI, I am working at Bailey’s Bar and Grille in Townsend, MA as a waitress (cliche for an actor perhaps, but not a bad gig and my aunt and uncle own the place so it’s nice to be surrounded by family), I’m trying to save up some money to move, and I’m so happy to be doing a show as well! I’m living a literal dream and playing Judy in 9 to 5, which starts rehearsals tonight (the night I’m writing this, probably not the night you are reading.) 

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you as we continue. 

I don’t know how to end this…

You’re rad as hell.

You rock, don’t ever change.

Smile and the world smiles with you.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Peace out, home skillet.