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Apodaca: A career in the arts can be a 'Blast'

December 16, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca

When Megan Malloy was in middle school at Sierra Vista in Irvine, her music teacher took his students to see a production of "Blast," which combined elements of a marching band with dance and Broadway-style razzle-dazzle.

Meggie, as her friends and family call her, was transfixed.

"I got my mind blown," she said. "It was musical and theatrical, and entertaining enough for people who don't know anything about marching bands to be entertained."

That fascination lay dormant for the better part of a decade. She continued on to excel at music at University High School, where she played trumpet in the marching band. She then attended Chapman University in Orange, where she joined the pep band, and graduated last spring with a degree in film production.

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I recall speaking at the time with Meggie's parents, who are longtime friends of mine, about their uneasiness regarding their daughter's employment prospects. Would a degree in the arts and superior musical skills be enough for a 22-year-old to make a living?

That's when Meggie heard that "Blast" was seeking new talent for its national touring company, and the old feelings of wonder and enchantment rushed back to her. She decided that — as unlikely as the goal of landing a spot might seem — she had to try. She submitted a video showcasing her abilities, along with a resume and letters of recommendation.

About a month later she received the news. She got it.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of 13-hour rehearsals, a grueling performance schedule, and waking up in new cities with little recollection of dates, times or even which state she was in.

"I've been to every Wal-Mart and every Subway everywhere," she joked.

It's Meggie's idea of heaven on earth.

Now on an extended holiday break before resuming the tour in January, Meggie recently revisited the place where her dreams first took shape: the classroom of her beloved middle-school music teacher, Henry Miller.

Some readers may have noticed by now that I'm a sucker for stories about dedicated teachers who transform young lives. But I assure you, there's no need for embellishment here. As Meggie herself told me, it was Miller who first inspired and motivated her, and his lessons continued to resonate years after they'd parted ways.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," she said.

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