Like Tracy Turnblad from the musical “Hairspray,” Michelle Ingle tends to latch onto the positives around her.
For instance, a single ticket to a musical performance ignited her life’s passion and led to the senior theater performance major auditioning for her “dream role.”
As a 12 year old, Ingle was able to see “Hairspray” on the stage at the Lied Center for Performing Arts when tickets were provided through the Lied’s Performance Fund program, which grants 3,000 tickets annually to children who otherwise would not be able to attend a show.
“It was the first time I’d seen it and I remember just being thrilled and on the edge of my seat,” Ingle said. “I was really into it and I decided that this is what I wanted to do with my life.”
After graduating from Lincoln Southwest High School, Ingle enrolled in Nebraska’s Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. During her time at Nebraska, Ingle has earned internships at the Lied Center, performed in numerous school productions and participated in master’s classes with Broadway touring companies.
“I’ve been blown away by the fact that I could actually talk and dance with and learn from these people who I’ve idolized since I was 12,” she said.
Her “Hairspray” experience came full circle when Ingle was invited to New York City in April to audition as Tracy Turnblad for NBC Television’s Dec. 7 production of “Hairspray Live.”
“I was elated I had received a callback for this project,” Ingle said. “But I didn’t know how I was going to pay for the plane ticket.”
Funds reserved to help fine and performing arts student projects helped cover the expense and Ingle flew to New York as one of 15 finalists for the role. During the audition, Ingle met with casting agents and NBC executives. Though she didn’t get the part, she said the experience was invaluable.
“It’s not often that people get that kind of opportunity and it was quite spectacular,” she said.
Now back at Nebraska, Ingle is an intern in the Lied Center’s education office, helping distribute tickets through the Performance Fund – an act that she knows from experience has the potential to change lives.
“I thought it was really something special, that even in my small, intern way, I was able to fill out that form that gave that opportunity to somebody else,” she said. “I see how meaningful it is now. I wouldn’t be who I am without the arts.”