June 12, 2013 - Mason Van Gieson was ready for summer vacation weeks ago when she found out one of her goals was coming to life - she would be traveling to New York City and training with Broadway professionals.
Van Gieson (click for larger version)
Van Gieson won the Michigan Ovation Awards at the Wharton Center, May 19. With the win she was given a $1,000 scholarship, an all-expense paid trip to New York City for a 6-day intensive training with Broadway directors, choreographers, actors, agents and more. She will also compete in the National Jimmy Awards.
"I would say I am excited," Van Gieson glowed about winning. "I took second last year. It was a year of hard work to get back to Ovations. Winning was an amazing experience. I am really excited to go to New York."
"She works hard all the time," her parents, William and Sandra added.
"We are beyond proud," Sandra said. "It was nice to see her recognized for her hard work."
The Ovation Awards was a two-day event where 50 actors and actresses nominated worked on two company numbers as well as a solo number.
"We sang our iconic song for our characters," Mason said, adding she was nominated for her character Belle from "Beauty and the Beast." "They put all the songs in a medley and all the characters from the different shows interacted. Then, I prepared one solo we were coached on. If you made it to the finals, you performed it."
She selected "Your Daddy's Son" from "Ragtime" for her solo, explaining it is a powerful piece.
"It's heavily dramatic," she added. "The emotional connection is the number one reason why I chose it. It also has a little bit of everything in it musically."
Mason is the first junior from Clarkston High School to win the award. She was joined at the Ovation Awards by castmate, senior Charlie Fallis, who played Beast.
"I am really lucky to not only have played opposite Charlie but have a friend like Charlie," Mason smiled. "He is a really great guy. We were on stage for the final performance of our medley during the show and we are all in our costumes from the show. He was singing his solo and I realize it was going to be the last time hear him sing 'If I Can't Love Her.' I almost lost it on stage because it sounded so good."
Mason also was the recipient of the Gypsy Robe, where actors voted for the cast member who embodies the spirit of the theater.
"It was a very emotional experience for me to receive it because the people I met at Ovations are some of the best, most talented and kindest people I have ever met," Mason said. "Just to be included in that group was great but to be recognized by them was really great for me."
Mason began singing before she could talk because she was always around it. She started acting when she was 7-years-old, explaining it seemed natural to be the next step.
"Theater is definitely a part of my childhood because it's what we do for fun," she said. "We go see shows. I was three when we went to see 'Cats.'"
"She loved it," Sandra added.
For Mason, going to New York City and getting the Broadway experience is a dream come true since the goal is to be on the Broadway stage performing.
"I am definitely excited to hone my skills and my craft because I will be working with the best," she said preparing for the trip. "I know it can only get better from here. I know the instruction I am getting in every area is going to be top notch. The more people you meet, the more things you can learn. I am definitely looking forward to meeting everyone in the industry and working with them."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.