This is the third in a four-part series celebrating Tyler Junior College’s 8th annual Arts Festival.
Throughout the month of April, we're highlighting a few of our talented students, alumni and faculty members in the disciplines of art, dance, music and theatre.
Tyler Junior College wasn’t just Colby Raasch’s first choice — it was his only choice.
“During my senior year in high school, my theatre director recommended I look at TJC,” said Raasch, a sophomore musical theatre major from Argyle. “So, I went to an event where I was auditioning for a lot of schools at the same time, and (TJC professor) Dr. David Crawford and (TJC theatre facilities director) Bryce McWilliams came up to me afterward and talked to me about TJC, and that was it. I didn’t need to talk to any other schools.”
In the two years since joining the TJC program, Raasch has worked nonstop at honing his skills, not just as an actor but in all areas of stagecraft.
“The amount of shows that I’ve done in two years here is quadruple the amount of shows I did during all four years of high school,” he said. “This was definitely an upgrade, just due to the fact that we do so many more shows here, with the second stage productions and play readings, plus I’ve had the opportunity to learn about playwriting.”
He continued, “You become well versed in so many different aspects of theatre. Not just acting but in design, costuming, lighting, sound and production. You can learn all these things and grow in all of these different areas to make you a well-rounded actor, so you’re better off when you’re sent off to the next place.”
Raasch has one more summer course to take before graduating, and he’s still mulling “the next place.”
“I’m looking at a couple of options, but there’s nothing finite yet,” he said. “Wherever I am, I hope I’m having a great time like I am now. I hope I feel proud of the work I make, no matter what or where that may be.”
He credits the theatre faculty for their ability to pass along their knowledge and make it fun.
“They’re all so talented, loving and friendly,” he said. “That’s one of the best things about it. They’re also very encouraging for us to try new things. For example, a lot of people, including myself, would not have seen themselves as carpenters. But now, we’re skilled and trained in all these different tools and know how to do all sorts of cool things with design. I feel like, if I had gone anywhere else, I wouldn’t have had that.”
He continued, “Between the high school version of me and who I am now, I’m a totally different person. I’ve definitely learned how to work hard and work efficiently. I’m very proud of myself in the sense that I do a lot of work now, and I feel really good about it. In high school, I didn’t care as much or put as much effort into anything. But now, I feel focused.”
Asked what advice he would give to anyone thinking about studying theatre at TJC, and Raasch offers a quick reply: “You should just do it. What are you waiting for? Come and see the school and talk to the students and the faculty. You’ll be sold just like I was.”
For more on TJC Arts Festival, go to TJC.edu/ArtsFestival.