<b>A Big Start:</b> Haskell picked for 'Broadway’s Rising Stars’

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

▪ She’ll join 17 other young actors and singers from around the country to perform in front of industry professionals at The Town Hall theater in New York.

Hollywood and New York will have a huge say in whatever success Mary Lane Haskell enjoys in the future. But Mississippi will play its part, too.
“We would come home to Mississippi every year. Every summer, or we’d make a visit at Thanksgiving or Easter,” Haskell said. “My parents wanted to make sure my brother, Sam, and I were exposed to their Southern roots.”
Haskell is the daughter of Amory native Sam Haskell, former vice president at William Morris Agency, and singer Mary Donnelly Haskell, a former Miss Mississippi.
Now, the 21-year-old is poised to start her own show business career.
A December 2010 graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, she’ll be one of 18 young artists from around the country to perform July 18 during the “2011 Broadway’s Rising Stars” at The Town Hall theater in New York.
“I was one of two people Tisch submitted,” she said. “I was granted an audition, and I was called back and called back again to make the final cut.”
She and the other performers will have a week to rehearse before the big night, which could have a major impact on their future careers.
“That evening, we’ll give a concert for about 1,500 people, many of whom will be industry personnel directors, musical directors, choreographers, agents, managers, people like that,” Haskell said.

Early start
Haskell’s road to “Broadway’s Rising Stars” began as a child, when she listened to her mother sing and tried to mimic the sound. Ballet lessons started at age 3.

“Very early on, I knew this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I had a lot of friends who played soccer and a lot of friends who played tennis, but I was always the girl rushing to dance class after school.”
As she developed her skills in Encino, Calif., there was no pressure to get into show business.
“In fact, quite the opposite,” she said. “I remember walking into my father’s office and saying, ‘Daddy, I want to be an actress.’
“He said, ‘Are you sure?’
“He knew what that life would entail for me.”
A typical day at high school opened with vocal jazz ensemble at 7 a.m., school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., show rehearsal from 3 to 6 p.m., then dance class from 6 to 10 p.m.
“Just very, very full days, but loving every minute of it,” she said.
Another challenging schedule awaited her at college, where she spent three days a week in performance classes and two days taking traditional liberal arts courses on her way to a bachelor of fine arts degree.

Next step
Haskell’s training began in Southern California and continued in New York. She also spent a semester studying Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
For three seasons, she brought her talents to her parents’ new home for the Oxford Shakespeare Festival.
“The big thing I did here in Oxford was play Ophelia in ‘Hamlet,’” she said.
She’s built up an impressive résumé of school experience. “Broadway’s Rising Stars” is a step toward translating her years of training into a professional career.
“All of the sudden, it’s not quite as written out for you as it was before. It’s very scary, but also very exciting,” she said. “I don’t know what will come next. I really want to find out.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.