SHS Alum graduates to Broadway

January 27, 2009 — by Emily Chen and Mabel Hsu

On Monday, Dec. 15, the school welcomed a guest speaker, 1995 alumni Kyle Barisich, who plays the lead role of Raul in the national tour of the Broadway musical “Phantom of the Opera.” He spoke to the fine arts program about his experience as a musician and actor.

In the McAfee center, Barisich spoke about how teachers at Saratoga High affected his path to Broadway by encouraging him to pursue his dream.

“He moved to New York and told us how he spent a lot of his time waiting tables and auditioning as much as he could,” said senior Sarah Baldwin. “He said that he used to walk by the opera house every day and visualize himself working there. Then he auditioned for “Phantom of the Opera,” and four months later, he got a call asking if he would like to go on tour with them.”

Barisich’s account of his rise to success was of great interest to the students, many of whom have similar interests and dreams as Barisich.
“He [was] definitely really inspiring because of how [he thought] it wasn’t just luck because he thought he could change luck by visualizing himself going there and doing what he wanted to do,” said Baldwin.

The women’s ensemble and chamber and concert choir then went to San Francisco on Dec. 18 and watched the musical. They also had the opportunity to meet with him after the show. Watching Barisich perform on stage was also much more personal for the students who were able to meet him in advance.

“When he talked to us at school, he told us about everything he got to do and then we saw him on stage and [I thought], ‘Wow, you worked really hard for that,’” said junior Kaitna Shankar.

Barisich’s pleasant, down-to-earth demeanor was surprising to the students for someone who became so successful.

“He is really kind and courteous [and] said that the biggest thing that helped him was being polite with everyone,” said Baldwin. “In general he’s not what you’d think of an aspiring famous person. [He didn’t] step on people to get to where he is.”

Having Barisich speak to the students, and then being able to watch his lead performance on stage was an inspiring and encouraging experience for the students who had the privilege of meeting this successful yet modest alum.

“He made me want to sing better. Everything he did made me want to work hard at singing because [I thought], if he can do it and he’s from Saratoga High, then maybe I could do it, too,” said Shankar.

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