Lawrence’s lasting impact on Spartan theater



Mr. Lawrence films as actors run down the hall during the making of “Cliffhanger: Return of a Blue Ghost.” This movie took place of the 2021 play and can be viewed on YouTube.

Mr. Lawrence poses with Navya Naik (10) at the 2021 award ceremony. The ceremony took place after the premiere of the theater’s filmed movie, “Cliffhanger: Return of a Blue Ghost.”
The spring musical for 2023 has been revealed as “Grease.” Auditions were virtually submitted by Feb. 10, and practices started soon after.

Last fall, actors practiced multiple days a week for three months approaching the annual play, all leading up to three successful performances of “12 Angry Jurors.” With their achievement, many students want to return for the spring musical but the director will not be returning with the actors. On Dec. 5th, theater teacher Brandon Lawrence announced that he would be leaving White Station to pursue a teaching job in Iowa. After working at White Station for years, he became an integral part of the staff and a beloved teacher.

“When he announced that he was leaving, a lot of people started crying,” Navya Naik (10) said. “There was a going away party and it was just a very emotional process.”

One reason that Lawrence has been an influential teacher is the trust he built up with students. Before performances, he would conduct breathing exercises and small games to help calm the actors’ nerves. Lawrence also checked in on mental health and allowed anyone to talk with him when necessary. 

“He really knows how to create a safe environment for everybody, and I think everybody in the theater can agree that he makes everyone feel comfortable, and everyone really likes to talk to him,” Jennifer Guerrero (10) said. “He’s unlike any other theater teacher that I’ve ever had.” 

Lawrence taught critical lessons regarding theater. From intro of theater to directing, he was able to strongly impact students through a range of classes. This relationship built on trust helped actors to learn about becoming more comfortable on stage to perform at their best.

“I used to be very shy freshman year and I feel like he’s really taught me to warm up on stage,” Ehrett (12) said. “Outside of the classes, I feel like my confidence on stage has grown and he’s really taught me to emulate the characters that I’m trying to act more.” 

Lawrence also sponsored the Thespian Society Club, which helps handle the annual play and musical, as well as have theater oriented meetings. Without Lawrence, many in the club are wondering what will happen next. The new theater teacher is scheduled to arrive Feb. 13, and club members are hoping they will be interested in sponsoring the club.

“[The Thespian Society] haven’t had a meeting since we haven’t had a teacher and I think our next meeting is going to be a lot different,” Gurrero said. “We’re going to be meeting a new face … and it’s going to take some time to get everyone to actually warm up to each other again.”

Many are wondering what the musical will look like without Lawrence as well. Although the choir teacher Joseph Powell will help direct and teach music, Lawrence played an important role in assisting and directing the actors. Seniors in the directing class will be covering Lawrence’s past position. Even without the reliability of Lawrence, theater students are still excited for the upcoming musical, which has been revealed to be “Grease.”

“Since ‘Guys and Dolls’ didn’t do great, I’m really hoping that on this one we get to get off the ground and actually perform in a style that isn’t concert style, and I’m really hoping that this one gets its full share” Ehrett said.

Even without Lawrence, the theater students and Thespian Society are enthusiastic for what comes next. As the pandemic interrupted the usual theater performances, actors have been working diligently to get the department back on track. 

“I’m really excited to see where the Thespians go from here,” Ehrett said. “I’m really proud of our whole department because we’ve had a lot the past four years … and I’m really proud of us for getting through it all. I really hope that Mr. Lawrence leaving does not falter us too hard.”