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The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!
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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

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The Carroll News

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Keeping up with Kincaid: am I returning to the stage?

Editor-in-Chief%2C+Laken+Kincaid%2C+reflects+on+their+thoughts+from+the+past+week.
Laken Kincaid
Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

“My gangster persona is just armor to conceal that I am a naked child wandering the wilderness, holding in my hands my wounded, fragile heart.” – Mischa Bachinski, “Ride the Cyclone”

I first got a taste of starpower when I was in a church recital in preschool. My role was simple: I was one of multiple tiny children singing “You Are My Sunshine” dressed as a ray of light on a stage in front of my entire congregation. Later in the song, it was scripted that the whole gaggle of kids would put on sunglasses and begin to rap the chorus of the noted ballad. Of course, I did this task with ease, but found myself lacking the spotlight. In response, I sauntered to the front of the theater, grabbed the microphone with all of the force that my mushy hands could and placed the head of the mike to my lips in a French kiss style. Needless to say, I stole the show by both angering other rising performers and causing some older women in the crowd to wail at my improper etiquette.

My next brush with the limelight was in elementary school; I was a rapping reindeer in our annual Christmas concert. I still remember the line to this day and how one of my childhood friends would do the worm after I finished busting my rhymes, both of us no more than 10 years old. Although I did not leave a mark in the minds of tired parents or talent scouts, I was invigorated by the art of showmanship even when my only exposure to Hollywood was through Disney Channel. The dopamine release was addictive and, as a child, I would probably describe it as a drug.

Naturally, I continued my lust for acting and singing throughout my younger years. I remember searching online for Nickelodeon casting calls on the collapsing middle school computers and feeling disheartened when my parents said we could not fly to California for me to audition for extra number five in iCarly. Around this time is when I was introduced to the beautifully intoxicating realm of musical theater through the likes of “Hamilton” and “Heathers: The Musical.”

This desire carried over to high school when I joined a local theater troupe. From Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” to Olaf in “Frozen: The Musical,” I attacked every audition with spunk and the music for “A Way Back to Then” clutched in my binder. Vocal lessons were interspersed within my varied and sometimes taxing rehearsal schedule and it got to the point where much of my happiness came from a highlighted script and the director shouting, “back in five (thank you, five).”

Like any tale of passion in this era, my fiery ambitions were extinguished in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our slotted April performance of “Seussical” was suspended indefinitely and I had to decide what I was going to do with an entire costume featuring fake fangs and an iconic red and white striped hat. At the time, I was in a state of denial, not wanting to enter theater kid retirement for many more years when musicals would become just a hobby and not a lifestyle. After some time though, I subconsciously accepted that that phase of my life took its final bow and instead of being on the cover of a Playbill, I was just a journalism student who really liked Broadway.

Maybe now is a good time to announce an encore performance. Frankly, I missed the feeling of being in a show and the engulfing spirit of joy is so overbearing that it must be shared with the helpless readership of The Carroll News. I did not even realize how much I enjoyed musical theater (or rather, how much I took it for granted) until Logan Sindone ’24 was asking me faux-interview questions and he prodded me to talk about myself and my infatuations that lie outside of the professional world. When I couldn’t think of anything, he slyly signaled to my car radio which was playing “History Has Its Eyes on You.”

From there, everything fell into place. One day, Riley Woodruff ’26 walked into our Philosophy of Love and Sex course and told me she was going to be in a John Carroll production of “Ride the Cyclone.” After squealing and telling her how much I adored such a production, she told me that actors were needed and that I should try and audition. Luckily, theater director Claire Connely took a chance on me and my slightly rusty vocals, casting me as (one of my favorite characters in all of musical theater) Mischa Bachinski, the Ukrainian bad boy with a heart of gold. As might be expected, I am all in. It is also a HUGE bonus that I get to share the stage with Opinion Editor Brian Keim ’26.

I feel as young and naive now as I did embarrassing myself inside of a temple or wielding a puppet of a snowman who cannot wait for summer. I don’t think I entirely lost myself between “Seussical” and now. Instead, this is the story of a heartbroken teen who lost their senior show to a global crisis and they can finally belt at the top of their lungs again. Under all the hair and makeup, they get to take on a matinee and smile at their name under a marquee. Just as Sweeney Todd says when he rediscovers a portion of his identity, “At last, my arm is complete again.”

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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