A college student who serves as the director of a musical stands on a stage as she addresses her cast and crew.

Graduation Spotlight: Syara Villarreal, Performance Studies

Syara Villarreal experienced a career moment just in time for graduation.

The senior Performance Studies major directed her first musical — “Ordinary Days” by Adam Gwon — for her senior capstone project, calling it “truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

“Putting on a musical is no easy task, and I couldn’t have done it without my incredible cast and crew, who helped bring my vision to life,” she said.

She is set to graduate Friday with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performance Studies. Villarreal will also be honored as a distinguished student in the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts’ Graduation Recognition Ceremony earlier in the day. 

Villarreal said she is honored to be selected for the award.

“Watching Performance Studies and the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts grow and develop throughout my time at A&M has been incredibly fulfilling,” she said. “I have enjoyed every second of my time as a student.”

Syara cast
The “Ordinary Days” cast and crew, back row from left: Robert Rutherford (music director/pianist), Grace Lunsford, Caleb Simmons and Syara Villarreal (director). Front row: Lizzete Velez and Colton Neuville.

“Ordinary Days” was performed in late April in the Black Box Theater in the Liberal Arts and Arts and Humanities Building, with a four-person cast and a music director/pianist. The story follows four people who live in New York City and go through life’s challenges together.

After working on the musical for over a year, Villarreal said she had ample time to generate ideas, which fueled her excitement to bring them to rehearsals.

“I was privileged to work with an extraordinary cast who eagerly contributed to bringing these concepts to life,” she said. “Witnessing these characters evolve from paper to vibrant personalities right before my eyes was undeniably my favorite aspect of the process.”

In the fall, Villarreal will pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre with a specialization in directing at the University of South Dakota. For her first show in the fall, she will be assistant director for “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe, under the primary direction of Chaya Gordon-Bland, associate theatre professor.

“I am thrilled to begin taking classes under the esteemed faculty, and be in a practice-based program where I will be immersed in theatre year-round,” she said. “It is a three-year program, and each year I will get to direct one show of the theatre season.”

Villarreal said the most rewarding part of her time at Texas A&M was the friendships and relationships she made with Performance Studies students and faculty members.

“The School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts brought me lifelong friendships and support systems that I will value throughout my career and life,” she said.

Top photo by Laura McKenzie.

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