FutureStars Profile: Pioneer senior Maggie Packard’s leap of faith lands her at center stage

Read original article at www.weloveannarbor.com.

No one likes rejection, and the fear of being denied your dream or passion or even something you want to try, sometimes keeps people from even trying. Maggie Packard was one of those people.

“My family has gone to see FutureStars since I was about 8 years old,” says the Pioneer HS senior. “After seeing the show several years in a row, I knew that it was something incredible that I wanted to be a part of. I had auditioned to be a host my junior year and did not receive a part, and originally was not going to audition this year because I was afraid of rejection.

“However, after encouragement from my mom and several of my friends, I decided to audition because it was my last chance to be a host in FutureStars.”

Packard’s bravery – and talent and skill – were rewarded when she was named one of six hosts for Pioneer Theatre Guild’s FutureStars 2020. The 18th annual citywide talent search for Ann Arbor’s next star is Jan. 17-18 with the finals on Jan. 25 at at Pioneer High School’s Schreiber Auditorium. The event features students from Ann Arbor’s public high schools as they sing, rap, and play music.

“I will be performing as one of the six hosts this year, meaning that instead of performing and taking part in the competition, I will be introducing the competing acts and entertaining the audience with opening skits before each show,” says Packard.

Photo courtesy of Sean Carter Photography

She says the experience has been somewhat “surreal.”

“I’ve wanted to be a FutureStars host since my freshman year of high school, and now that it has finally happened, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed writing jokes, getting to know the other hosts, and having the opportunity to grow as a writer and performer.”

Packard was in FutureStars her freshman and sophomore year of high school as a part of the group Rising Stars. She performed at the show but did not compete in the competition aspect of the show.

She sang in a total of eight group numbers: Halo by Beyonce; Twenty-One Guns by Green Day; Wild Things by Alessia Cara; Dance with Me by Air Supply; Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars; You Get What You Give by New Radicals; You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray; and I Love Me By Meghan Trainor). She even had a solo in the song I Love Me.

“My favorite thing about being on stage is that I have the opportunity to become a completely different person, but at the same time I’m just able to show everyone my truest self,” she says. “I think that performing is an incredibly unique way to convey your emotions and show the world who you truly are.”

Packard admits that performing is a love-nervous relationship.

“Performing honestly terrifies me, but I love it at the same time,” she says. “I enjoy the rush of adrenaline that comes during and after a performance. I don’t usually love being the center of attention, but when I’m performing, I just try to breathe deep, enjoy myself, and pretend I’m alone in my room.”

While part of FutureStars is a competition, there also is a very supportive and encouraging aspect to the event. The six hosts rehearse about three times a week with “wonderful coach,” Julie Strassel.

“At these rehearsals, we brainstorm skits and introductions, write them out, and then act them out and improve them from there,” says Packard. “The atmosphere between the hosts is such a positive and supportive group. Our rehearsals are productive, but at the same time I feel like I’m getting to know my fellow hosts better and would consider all of them my friends.”

Packard started performing in choir in seventh grade, but did not get involved with theatre until ninth grade. She became involved with Pioneer Theatre Guild as a freshman because “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to get involved with, and many of my friends had done shows with PTG and loved it.”

Her first show with PTG was FutureStars 2017. She went on to participate in The Wizard of Oz, High School Musical, FutureStars 2018 and Fame The Musical.

“I also discovered my passion for working behind the scenes through Pioneer Theatre Guild,” says Packard, who has been on the costumes crew for the shows In the Heights, Willy Wonka, and Matilda. “While I do enjoy being onstage, I also love to make the costumes for the actors onstage.”

Maggie, the daughter of Don Packard and Maria Murphy, is an excellent student. She has a 3.9 grade-point average and is a member of the Pioneer Theatre Guild’s Comedy Troupe and Pioneer’s a cappella group Harmony.

She plans on going to college next year, most likely to Kalamazoo College or University of Pittsburgh. “I’m not quite sure what I will study there, but it will most likely involve reading and writing,” she says.

By Terry Jacoby