Student Spotlight: Katelyn Onufrey '15

by Hallie Huffaker | 11/11/14 4:02pm

Though Katelyn Onufrey ’15 considered attending a music conservatory or specialized musical theater program, the theater major and sociology minor said she chose Dartmouth because she realized she “liked other things too much to give them up.”

Onufrey distinguished herself among Dartmouth artists when she played a leading role in “Hairspray” during her freshman winter, and she has not let up, becoming president of Dartmouth’s Dodecaphonics, a coed a cappella group, and a senior intern at the Hopkins Center.

Theater professor and Northern Stage artistic director Carol Dunne, who directed “Hairspray” and has taught Onufrey in a few of her theater classes, said Onufrey’s work ethic has helped her to shine when playing Amber and in subsequent roles.

“She is particularly wonderful to work with,” Dunne said. “She has a natural gift, but she wants to turn it into something extraordinary, so she pushes herself to go beyond what she can do easily.”

Dunne said she has noted Onufrey’s growth in skill and poise throughout her time at Dartmouth. In her “Acting for Musical Theater” class last year, Onufrey was “an incredible scene partner” to other actors, Dunne said.

“She has the talent, but she also has this razor focus and drive that will take her very far,” Dunne said.

Though she has focused her studies on musical theater, Onufrey said she enjoyed taking part in the theater department’s foreign study program to London this summer, which focused on classical stage acting. Led by theatre professor James Rice, the program included full-day acting instruction at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art as well as trips to professional productions around London.

Onufrey was surprised by how much she loved the rigorous schedule and came away with a greater appreciation for classical masters of the stage like Shakespeare, she said.

“It was super intense but so fun to have no note-taking, no lectures,” she said. “We did acting classes, voice classes [and] movement classes from 9 to 5 each day.”

Though she was interested in musical theater and sang choir in high school, Onufrey had not planned to audition for a Dartmouth a cappella group. Trying out on a whim led her to one of her favorite parts of her college experience, Onufrey said, as it caused her to grow as a singer, introduced her to lifelong friends and increased her self-confidence onstage and off.

Dodecaphonics music director Hayley Lynch ’15, who also joined her freshman fall, described Onufrey as a critical member to the group. In the time that the two have sung together, she said that Onufrey has grown into an “awesome, big personality.”

Lynch said Onufrey has excelled in her role as the group’s president, which includes responsibilities like keeping rehearsals on track and boosting morale with social events.

“She thinks about absolutely everything, from going apple picking to booking study rooms,” Lynch said.

Dodecaphonics business director Daniel Calano ’15 described Onufrey as having “the most incredible energy.” He called her a passionate and deliberate contributor to any Dodecaphonics or theater department performance.

Onufrey’s latest role, as an intern in the Hop’s Outreach and Education Department, has her working with four other senior interns across other Hop departments to coordinate projects. This term, she and the other interns planned a showing of “Big Hero 6” (2014) for Hop student workers.

As an intern, she also works with professors to coordinate syllabus material with Hop performances so that they can better supplement classroom studies with live theater performances, and she assists with planning Shakespeare workshops at local schools.

Growing up in a community that valued theater helped Onufrey see the arts as “essential to self-expression,” she said, a belief she hopes to share with others. She is interested in careers that combine the arts and education, and she said she hopes to be the artistic director of a community theater that emphasizes “theater education.”

“I am who I am today because of theater and all the people I’ve met through it,” Onufrey said. “I want to be able to give that experience to other kids who may not have another outlet to express themselves.”

Final word:

My favorite midnight snack is: mozzarella sticks with sour cream.

My favorite composers are: Pasek and Paul.

My favorite musical is: “Legally Blonde.”

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