Bright Lights, Long Nights and Stars in Sights

By Austin Hess –

With eight years of acting experience and thirteen productions under her belt, senior Courtney Jacobs is ready to graduate and take on college, committing to an acting major.

Since age 10 Jacobs has known theater was something she wanted to do. Jacobs admits starting theater camp at age 10 at the Fulton Theater was a big step in making her who she is today. She will always remember that her passion for theater started close to home.

“My Nanny and Poppy met and fell in love in the show Oklahoma. Growing up in their house they were always singing show tunes,” Jacobs recalled, “My Nan taught me songs from all of the classics and I fell in love with them,”

Jacobs’ family played a tremendous part in why she is so dedicated to and has such a love for the arts.

“My mom was in theater growing up, and my dad has been in a band since high school. I was lucky enough to grow up in a musical family.”

Courtney Jacobs. Photo by Austin Hess

Since Jacobs was brought up in a “musical family” and started acting when she was 10, one has to wonder how starting theater so young has affected her acting now as a seventeen year old.

“I’m glad that I started when I was 10, because it really helped me build confidence and become proud of my performing abilities. I don’t get as nervous because of it.”

Every summer, the Fulton runs a summer camp for kids ages 10 to 16 called Broadway Jr., where kids spend three weeks auditioning and practicing for a show that they perform at the end of the program. Jacobs has been in numerous Broadway Jr. courses.

Since beginning the camp, Jacobs has been involved in the shows Guys and Dolls, Honk!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Phantom Tollbooth, Pirates of Penzance and Annie. Being involved in each show has provided Jacobs with a fun and unique learning experience. She has contributed many great traits to Penn Manor Productions and will use those traits throughout the rest of her career.

Jacobs says that in each show she uses a different acting technique.

Moving forward from her six shows at the Fulton, Jacobs has starred in seven Penn Manor Productions: Little Shop of Horrors, Check Please, Curtains, Is He Dead?, The Music Man, Dracula and this year’s spring musical, Seussical. Seussical, simply known as “Seuss!” by many of the cast members, will be Jacobs’ last show at Penn Manor before she graduates.

Little Shop of Horrors was the Penn Manor production Jacobs made her freshman year.

“Making my first show my freshman year really boosted my confidence and helped me to believe in myself and my ability more,” Jacobs said.

After finishing Little Shop, Jacobs auditioned for the 2009 spring production Beauty and the Beast but wasn’t chosen for the cast.

“Although I wasn’t cast in Beauty and the Beast, that was kind of a lesson in itself – not making a show. It taught me to never be disappointed or bitter because you just weren’t right for something, and not to doubt myself, but to improve instead,” she said.

That is what makes Jacobs so bright, she is positive and adds positive energy to any environment. Since Jacobs did not make the show, she joined the publicity crew, which will make her future brighter and more informed in marketing.

After her first year of high school and two finished shows, Jacobs went on to be in the next six Penn Manor productions.

“I applied to Point Park, DeSales, Frostburg and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities. I have been accepted to all four,” she said.

Before getting to the real college auditions, she decided to compete in the acting categories of this years annual Pennsylvania State Thespian Conference to earn scholarship money. Not only has Conference provided theater scholarship opportunities for Jacobs, it has given her the most positive theater experience she could have ever asked for.

“It’s honestly the most amazing thing in the entire world. I have gathered so much knowledge, information, opportunities, and friendships from that wonderful place. I performed in an individual event for dialog my junior year, and had a scholarship audition during my senior year. A representative from each of my colleges mentioned sat in on my audition, and that is the reason that I’ve received my scholarships,” she said. “The people and experiences are life changing, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.”

After all this is through, she is excited to begin college and get even more experience in her life long ambition. But how do you choose where to go when you have so many options?

“I was given an $8,000 a year acting scholarship to Point Park and a $10,500 a year scholarship to Fairleigh Dickinson. I’ve dropped Frostburg from my choices, but I have my scholarship audition at DeSales on Feb. 11,” Jacobs said happily.

With so many things going through her head about college, she cannot help but think about the ups, downs, nerves, and leaving the friends shes had the past 4 years of her acting career after graduation.

“I’m excited to wake up ever day and do what I love. I’m excited to grow as an actress, and learn from people better than me. I’m nervous for the audition processes, and living with someone I don’t know. Mostly, I’m just excited to show other people what I can do, and get better at it. It’s scary going into a talent based profession because there’s so much competition, but it’s going to be amazing.” she said.  “I have made every single one of my best friends through a show or musical performance. They’re the best people. You become so close when you’re in a cast because you get to see each person express themselves, and you’re forced to get comfortable with each other in order for the show to be successful. Theater hasn’t taken a toll on my social life because theater is my social life.”

With practicing and performing Seussical, having her final State Thespian Conference this year, graduation and moving on to a great college experience, Jacobs certainly seems prepared to tackle anything that comes her way in the future. Looking back four years and seven shows, was she certain this was how her life was going to unfold her senior year?

That answer is yes.

Jacobs knew that with her determination, passion, and ability, she was going to succeed at anything she set out to do.

“I have always known what I’ve wanted to do with my life, but High School is what really made me sure of it. I thought that maybe I’d end up doing it, but I never knew if I was ‘good enough to make it.’ When I hit the stage, I know where I’m supposed to be,” she said.

“I honestly would not change anything. I am so happy that people pushed me to audition for that scholarship at conference, and I’m thankful for everyone who has taught me things along the way. I have loved the parts I’ve play in each show, and I’m excited to be involved for the rest of my life,” said Jacobs.