Jenny Powers, a singer and dancer on Broadway, speaks with and sings before students at Londonderry High School recently. She discussed what it's like to live in New York, audition and be in a variety of productions.

Allegra Boverman
Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Jenny Powers remembers the first time she realized what she wanted out of her life.

As a young girl growing up in Andover, she recalls watching as the serene and delicate performer moved across Boston's Wang Center stage like a breeze, capturing the audience with her grace and lilting soprano vocals in a performance of "Phantom of the Opera."

Powers was hooked from that day on.

Now Powers, 27, is performing on the Broadway stage, recently in the role of Meg in "Little Women," and soon to be the rowdy Rizzo in this summer's production of "Grease."

She visited high school music students in Londonderry, N.H., recently to tell them about her life and all the hard work it takes to become a professional entertainer. Her message was loud and clear: get an education and become as balanced as possible with what you love to do.

"I'm still one of you," she told the students. "I'm still a student, constantly training and honing my craft. Constantly a sponge."

Powers said she always had the spark and passion to entertain and be on stage. A bedroom mirror provided a space for facial expression practice, where she would become different characters and personalities.

"I begged my mother to let me be on 'Star Search,' " she added.

As any concerned mother might do, Powers said her mom encouraged her daughter to be cautious about her aspirations, but to work hard to make them happen. Powers said she continued to work on her studies, take part in extracurricular activities, and study voice and acting.

"I want to stress the importance of maintaining that balance," she told the students.

She got involved in community theatre, then after high school headed to Northwestern University, just north of Chicago, to study voice and theater. While in college, she was approached to enter the Miss Illinois pageant and won the title. She took a year off from college to travel around the state and speak about the importance of keeping education in the arts.

Powers took part in the 2000 Miss America contest and won scholarship money to help support her studies and dreams of performing. After graduating from Northwestern, she landed roles in several productions in the Chicago area and then packed her bags to head to New York.

She found work almost immediately, and eventually landed the "Little Women" role.

The lead roles in this summer's "Grease" production — Sandy and Danny — were named as part of the NBC reality series "Grease: You're the One That I Want." Powers said work begins on the show on June 11, and the curtain officially goes up in August.

"I'm pumped," Powers told the students about her role as tough-girl Rizzo. "I always liked to play the rebel on stage."

This Week's Circulars