Last week, Kevin Crowley’s dream came true.
The North Babylon senior missed his graduation and his prom.
“I always wanted to be one of those kids who missed their graduation or their prom because they were out shooting a movie,” he said.
It wasn’t a movie, but it was possibly a step in that direction.
After winning a regional high school theater award in New York City last month, Crowley, 18, qualified to take part in the National High School Music Theater Awards, a weeklong workshop in New York City that culminates in a performance and an award ceremony at the Minskoff Theatre.
Fifty students from across the country attended and five winners were chosen. Crowley, who has had leading roles in North Babylon’s productions all four years of school but never received formal training, was named Most Improved Actor.
To Crowley, it was just as good as winning Best Actor (minus the $10,000 prize). He said the majority of the students he was competing against had extensive training and exposure to theater. They knew the lines in scripts and the lyrics to songs without having seen the play.
“That was never me,” he said. “Theater was always a hobby not a passion.”
“That speaks to raw talent,” North Babylon Principal Raymond Williams said on Wednesday, listening in on Crowley’s description of the week at his school.
Williams added that Crowley has been a joy to have in the school and on the school stage, which he lights up every time he’s on it.
Williams specifically recalled last year’s school production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Crowley played Lumiere, the candlestick.
“He carried that show,” Williams said.
Crowley said he’s always prided himself on that raw talent and potential. Theater was always something, but only one of the things, he was passionate about.
In the fall, Crowley will enroll at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, but he won’t set foot on campus until next year. He’ll spend his freshman year studying in Florence, Italy, as a fashion design major.
“I have so many interests,” he said. “I’m still trying to find out what’s the best way, the most successful way of expressing myself creatively.”
Crowley said the workshop portion of the awards was an emotional experience. The students rehearsed for eight hours a day with short breaks for meals and free time at night. He said the instructors, including some of Broadway’s best - Crowley’s voice coach was Len Cariou, the original actor to play Sweeney Todd - were harsh.
He said the experience made him feel like he had coasted through the high school theater program, but the constant criticism refueled his determination to improve.
“The whole week I had been searching for that praise,” he said. “I still didn’t get all the praise I wanted. I got three words - Most Improved Actor.”