Congratulations Mary Elsa Henrichs for the 2013-14 Teen of the Year award!

By Lindsey Abendschein

Conlan Ledwith and Mary Elsa Henrichs in Romeo And Juliet (2014)
Mary Elsa Henrichs is the recipient of First Stage's 2013-14 Teen of the Year award, an award given by the First Stage Academy staff as they evaluate what it means to embody the First Stage spirit of taking risk, conquering fears, and going above and beyond in all aspects of life. Mary Elsa is no stranger to our stages, having appeared last season in MAUL OF THE DEAD, CRASH and ROMEO AND JULIET. She also participated in the 2014 Bard-o-Thon, performing 34 consecutive Shakespearean monologues, a feat even for the most devout of Shakespeare fans. In addition, she has continued to further her involvement with First Stage as an Academy intern, and in the community in roles at Skylight Music Theatre.

While graciously accepting the award, Mary Elsa had the following to say about her experiences with First Stage, and what they have meant to her:
Wow, what an incredible honor. The first two people I have to thank are my parents, who drove me here tonight. They drive me to First Stage a lot and they are responsible for supporting me behind the scenes. I don’t thank them enough for that, so thank you. 
There are a lot of people here tonight who make First Stage happen from behind the scenes, and I would like to thank all of you for creating this place where I can grow not only as an actor and as an artist, but also as a human being. Something that I’ve learned at First Stage is that acting is really the art of being a human being. We deal in the business of being people, and that training goes on both on and off stage. 
I have incredible teachers and incredible peers who help me feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations, which is part of acting. My teachers force me to take huge risks and have given me amazing opportunities, and I am so thankful for that. My teachers push me to new heights, and then they are ready to catch me when I fall. Because I do fall, all the time. And that’s something I’ve learned is part of being a human and part of being an actor. I love that at First Stage I can fail boldly and be applauded. Because that’s the only way to learn: by screwing it up really badly. 
Mary Elsa Henrichs accepting the First Stage 2013-14 Teen of the Year Award
First Stage believed in me before I really understood what it meant to believe in myself. And that’s something that I think is amazing about First Stage: that they believe in every student who walks through their doors. They also believe in my brother who has been at two summers of Next Steps recently. First Stage’s belief in the potential of every human being is magnificent and astounding. To conclude, First Stage is a pretty great place to be a human being. And with that, I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.   

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