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Rising Stars: Meet Tanner Schartz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanner Schartz.

Hi Tanner, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I remember it well because my mom loves to talk about this story.

On my 3rd Christmas, I loved all kinds of music, dancing with my Nana in the living room, rocking out to dad to Alvin and the Chipmunks, but one of my favorites was my Elmo conductors baton.

I would take it with me when I was a little older to my dad’s football games at Washburn U to “conduct” the halftime show. I was always encouraged by all my family to embrace music.

My grandma and I would do talent shows together and sing Elvis, I joined the choir and took trumpet lessons in 5th grade. In high school, I had a huge passion for sports as well, playing football, baseball, track and field, and 5th place in 6A state weightlifting my senior year, but my parents still encouraged Music and Theatre.

I did marching and concert band, musicals, and plays, and just like my 5-year-old self, during halftime, I would take off my football pads and conduct the marching band. I was living the dream.

Music saved my life and helped me in my college career. In my senior year, I dislocated my knee and had no chance of playing any sports beyond high school. I’m so grateful to have had a music background and instantly started auditioning for music and band programs all over.

But something in me wanted to dance and perform. There’s an incredible feeling when you’re on stage and your art and hard work make other people feel something. whether it’s happy, sad, betrayal, or inspiration. so two years into my music ed degree I switched degrees and got my BFA in Musical Theatre from Western Illinois University.

My story is to get up each day and sing or dance every single day. When people come to Worlds of Fun (my current job) or any play or musical, they come for an escape.

Why should it only be those two hours or that day? The world is hard right now so why not sing or dance like nobody is listening. Make yourself feel that joy and escape every day! It’s never too late to find joy and happiness. Listen to those little dreams because they end up being the right calling.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
OH NO!

Nothing ever worthwhile is easy. Getting up every day and looking for the next cruise line audition or national tour is grueling. There have been thousands of No’s in my early career, but all it takes is one YES. I’ve been lucky enough to be continuously working in my field since graduating college.

Not a lot of actors can say that and I am fortunate but it is not easy. Yes, I’m working now, but I’m always filming self-tapes (audition tapes of material) for other gigs down the road when this contract ends. Other challenges I’ve dealt with are working out and an eating disorder. I always was athletic and in shape but I never had the ideal body.

I felt like I needed the “Broadway body” with a six-pack to work in this industry. THAT is not true! As long as you can do 8 shows a week or currently, 4 shows a day and 5 on the weekend, then you are enough! This industry is tough. it can chew you up and spit you out, but only if you let it.

I’ve found doing stuff outside of theatre helps with these challenges.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I love what I do. I’m an Actor/Singer/Dancer and I currently work in Live Entertainment with Worlds of Fun.

This year’s show in The Moulin Rouge Theatre is Back to Broadway. You can enjoy selections from Broadway shows such as Fosse, Mary Poppins, Rock of Ages, Hairspray, and others. all the shows together had more than 8,600 performances combined during their Broadway runs.

We do all of their show-stopping numbers in about 25 minutes 4 to 5 times a day! Yes, that’s hard and yes, I’m sore (but the good kind of sore) hahaha! I would say out of the three my bread and butter is singing! I’m known for my high energy and I’ve been told it’s infectious. My favorite part of the show is when I get to high-five all the kiddos and see them singing and dancing along.

I think what sets me apart from others is I love to sing all types of pop or MT. One of my mentors, Dr. Brian Winnie has said and trained me to be versatile in my singing. Your vocal folds are a muscle and just like any muscle you can train them at the (vocal) gym!

It takes different muscles in different parts of your voice to sing different styles of music. Now it’s way easier said than done, but that’s something I’ve worked really hard on and I’m proud of. One of the proudest moments in my life was being selected as the top 20 singers in the musical theatre intensive in Region V at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2019.

Region V is one of the biggest states in it including Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Over 600+ students auditioned to be a part of the intensive and my best friend and I both made the top 20.

She ended up winning 1st place and traveled to Nationals in Washington D.C. and I won a scholarship to a summer institute in New York City for my talents. It was the largest crows I’ve ever performed for, with over 1,500 people. I’ll never forget winning and seeing my best friend in the wings waiting to give me a hug because we were going to New York together!

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
I’m a firm believer in the Arts and I want parents to support their kids when they want to pursue it in college. My parents were scared at first but they also taught me to be happy in life, cause life is so short!

Also, you can do sports and theatre in high school! It was hard but it can be done! a huge shout out to my Dad for encouraging me to do it all!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ricki Brown, Okoboji Summer Theatre, WIU Marketing and Communications, Rebecca Allen Photography, and Elena Patterson Photography

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1 Comment

  1. Carole Geier

    July 18, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    I’m so darn proud of our great-nephew, Tanner! What a sublimely talented young man…I can tell you, he will go far in show biz because he loves it so and he works so hard! Great article…he has a lot to say and says it well.

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