Beautiful music fills the room while Pine View alumna Lauren Teyke patiently waits behind the curtain. It is the night of one of many Broadway performances of “Anastasia.” Through a slit in the curtain, Teyke can see an actor singing in the center of the stage. He sings to the audience about how Anya, secretly Anastasia Romanov, the Grand Duchess of Russia, and Dimitry are falling in love. He leaves the stage and a new scene is played out as the red curtain lifts, uncovering a backdrop of a night sky with a full moon — its light reflected onto a blue lake. Lights, blazing overhead, fade from deep red to a cool blue as the walls on opposite sides of the stage spin around, revealing actors sitting at theater seats, pretending to watch the ballet “Swan Lake.” Teyke takes a deep breath as she enters the stage, no longer hidden by the curtain.
Teyke, who has recently turned 21, is currently on tour for nine months for “Anastasia,” a Broadway musical. She dances in “Quartet At The Ballet” as Odette and performs as part of the ensemble, including roles like the eldest daughter in the Romanov family and a news reporter. She will be in five shows at Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, from March 18-20.
In a way, Teyke was born into ballet — her mother is a professional ballet dancer and went into musical theater for 11 years, becoming a professor at Northern Kentucky University where she taught ballet. At a young age, Teyke was able to perform on stage with the students at the university.
“Sometimes I would get little moments on stage with the college kids if [my mom] needed a child in the musical. Even though she never pushed it on us to do [ballet], I was so immersed in it that I fell in love with it and decided to do it as my career, as well,” Teyke said.
Teyke’s mother started up the Ovation School of Musical Theatre, which teaches musical theater and several types of dances including ballet, tap, and jazz. For all of elementary school, middle school, and two years of high school. Teyke went to this school to learn several genres of dances and musical theater. In high school, she attended Sarasota Cuban Ballet School for two years, but soon left and went back to dancing at the ballet school that her family owned. After graduating, Teyke pursued her dreams before becoming an actress in Broadway’s musical “Anastasia.”
“We miss having her at home, and also at the school [Ovation School of Musical Theatre] because she was not only a good role model and an inspiration to all of our students, but Lauren also taught for us — she taught several classes,” Teyke’s stepfather, Matt McCord said.
From an early age, Teyke worked very hard to perfect the art of ballet and her hard work has paid off. Her parents are especially proud of her and are very happy that she was able to achieve her dreams.
“We know that this was her dream and we are exceedingly happy, her mother and I, that she has landed exactly in the place that she has been working for all this time,” McCord said.
Teyke has been on tour with many other actors since Oct. of 2021 and performs many shows per week. The group typically performs two shows on the weekend, then travels and stops to perform at various points during the week. These performances of “Anastasia” are around two and a half hours long and are based on the true story in history when the last Czar of Russia and his family were executed during a revolution. The performance follows Anya (secretly Anastasia), who has amnesia and wants to learn who her family is. Along the way, Anastasia makes friends with many other characters and they help her find her grandmother, who is on a journey searching for Anastasia, as well.
To understand these characters more and portray them more accurately, the actors received packets with information on the characters. Teyke and many others played a character in the Romanov family, so they would meet up to read the packet’s information on this family and would dedicate a lot of time to figuring out who the characters really were behind their title.
“We play the daughters — the four sisters. We each had to kind of figure out ‘What is that sister all about?’ Some of them were nurses, some of them were the very young ones, or best friends with the little brother and things like that. You kind of develop each character on its own,” Teyke said.
After hours spent studying the characters, practicing each scene, figuring out costumes, and traveling between shows, the actors put on the performance and play out a vivid story to the audience. Teyke found that no two audiences were alike in their reactions to the more comedic elements of the show.
“Every crowd is kind of different every place we go to. Sometimes they’re louder, sometimes they’re more respectful and quiet. We really like the loud crowds, but it’s interesting to always be in a different city since people kind of laugh at different things — they clap at different things based on where we are,” she said.
When they’re not performing, Teyke and the other actors need a place to stay between shows. The actors find themselves in hotel after hotel filled with different yet comfortable beds, kitchens, and bathrooms, staying overnight with roommates and utilizing the buddy system to ensure safety. Other times, they sleep on moving tour busses.
Teyke said that she and the other actors had grown close after living in such tight quarters, becoming like one big family. When Teyke turned 21, she was greeted with a pleasant surprise upon entering the tour bus.
“That was a touching day because they did very special things for me, and we all kind of do it for each other and each other’s birthdays. Having my tour bus seat decorated or going out to dinner with cast mates — we all kind of have become each other’s families. So all those little moments that we celebrate that you would normally celebrate with your family are probably the ones that stick with you the most,” Teyke said.
Even though it has only been a couple months, Teyke has truly grown close with the other actors. She looks forward to continuing her nine-month long tour and is excited to be able to pursue her ballet and musical theater career. She is very glad that she is able to perform alongside numerous talented actors in the Broadway musical “Anastasia.”