The following is from the July 8, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

SMU grad from Coppell leads 'High School Musical' dance workshop


What a difference a year makes.

Last year, Travis Waldschmidt of Coppell graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in dance performance.

Now the 24-year-old is performing in the ensemble of the Dallas Summer Musicals' presentation of Disney's High School Musical. He's also an understudy for the role of Ryan Evans, a part he got to play opening night at Fair Park Music Hall, when the main actor got sick.

Want to learn some of Travis' moves from the professional stage tour? He's teaching dance steps and songs in a Dallas Summer Musicals School of Musical Theatre HSM workshop on Saturday.

Though he's been a part of some smaller local productions, this is Travis' first big Dallas show, and he says he's excited about performing for his family, friends and teachers. We caught up with him just before he arrived in Dallas, and he took a little time from his hoofing to e-mail us answers to our questions.

Why do you think the kids love High School Musical so much?

High school is an awkward time for kids, speaking from experience, and I feel that having someone outside of yourself to relate to somehow validates your existence. HSM shows people that it is OK to be who you are, and I think it's this idea of acceptance that resonates so well with the kids.

What do you like best about it? What is your favorite part of the show?

The thing I like best about HSM is how it is developing a future generation of theater connoisseurs. It is teaching children the validity of live theater and is securing our art form as the older generations pass on. My favorite part of the show comes in the last lyric, "star." Each vocal part breaks off and sings "star" while the lights flood the audience, and the volume of both the cast and audience is elating. I can't even describe the rush I get from the screaming audiences.

As someone who just graduated from SMU in 2007, how does it feel to be in the position of teaching others now in this workshop?

It feels great because now I have the opportunity to pass along the teachings that have been passed to me. I also am excited because I used to be the kid in the workshop and now the roles are reversed.

Read the full story.

# # #