Ninth-grader Ocean Bruinius’ expansive skillset never fails to impress her peers, as she has established herself as a distinguished yet unpretentious actress and singer.
Bruinius has been interested in theater since she was nine years old and has been a part of five productions so far: The Little Mermaid, Seussical, Annie, Humbug and The Addams Family. Currently, Bruinius is playing Juanita in West Side Story at Rise Above Performing Arts, which debuts January 3 to 5 and 9 to 11. She currently participates in the Pine View women’s choir and has sung as a member of the choir since her sixth-grade year.
“It is by far the best quality show I’ve been in and one of my favorite musicals of all time,” Bruinius said.
Bruinius draws inspiration to act from all facets of life: fellow actors, music and even some of her favorite activists. Bruinius is massively inspired by Barbara Streisand, who she sees as one of the greatest Broadway performers of all time.
“She really defined and revitalized theater,” Bruinius said. “She, in my opinion, is the highest standard when it comes to Broadway performers.”
Bruinius’ future in acting is shaped by her aspirations, hoping one day to perform as her dream roles: Eponine from Les Miserables and Maureen Johnson from Rent.
While Bruinius’ expertise remains impressive, she acknowledges that acting can also be a huge struggle.
“It was difficult for me to overcome my stage fright,” she said. However, Bruinius also understands that cautiousness and ‘nerves’ can be a good thing.
“Nerves aren’t bad and they, in fact, can improve performance. But to keep them under control, the most helpful thing is to simply get into character and stop thinking about the audience,” Bruinius said.
One of Bruinius’ close friends and fellow actress and singer, Hailey Balzan, has performed alongside Bruinius for a significant amount of her career in theater. The two acted alongside each other in the Pine View Drama club’s production of Annie, are now acting together in West Side Story, and are in their fourth year of Pine View choir together.
“Both of us went for the role of Maria in West Side Story, and both had a pretty good chance of getting in,” Balzan said, “but she was still so nice to me; she helped me find all my audition material, helped me practice and gave me some advice for my audition.”
In the end, neither landed the part, but both are still noteworthy characters: Balzan as Consuela and Bruinius as Juanita.
When it comes to those having trouble with stage fright and hoping to better themselves, Bruinius gives some crucial advice in just a few words.
“Think about the story you want to tell.”