Northern State University senior Tyler Lanam can generally be found in one of two places: in class or on stage. Lanam, originally from Rapid City, South Dakota, lives the hectic life musical theatre majors have come to know and love. His days begin bright and early with classes and ensembles and his days end late with work and rehearsals. Lanam’s most current role is that of Mr. Darcy in Northern State University’s production of Pride and Prejudice. Beyond Northern’s campus, Lanam, a member of NSU Masquers Club, has taken on several additional theatrical productions as well. Ranging from Aberdeen Community Theatre (ACT) to the Northern Fort Playhouse, Lanam has tackled a number of roles. “My favorite roll was Donkey in Shrek: The Musical,” said Lanam. “We have such a great community theatre program here in Aberdeen, and it is an honor to be a part of it.” In fact, the production of Working, a joint effort between ACT and NSU, went on to compete in a regional community theatre festival. “Part of the ensemble of Working was awarded second in the region, with the region consisting of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa,” noted Lanam. Recently, Lanam began expanding his acting horizons with a new project, participating in a few Downtown Association Murder Mystery Dinners.
I love theatre because I believe in its power to change people’s lives and inspire them to live better lives. Tyler Lanam, NSU Musical Theatre Major
These dinners differ in many ways from a traditional show. The experience is more interactive with the audience. Additionally, there is another factor that makes these shows different than most other theatre productions. Explained Lanam, “We are given a general layout of the evening, but all of the lines are completely improvised.” While at Northern the past three years, Lanam has had a number of great achievements and influences. For instance, for the past two years he has received the Mathew Shepard Memorial Scholarship, and since his freshman year he has been a WolfPact scholarship recipient. As for his greatest influences on campus, he states that “The theatre program has influenced my life immensely, but Dr. Woods, director of the choral program, was my biggest influence as he was one of the reasons I came to Northern. I worked with him during my high school years at South Dakota’s Honor Choir and was impressed.”
Lanam’s ultimate goal is to work in a professional theatre after he graduates, “I would really love to work any position in a professional theatre, be that backstage or onstage. I love it all.” Until then, he will continue to perform or work in local productions. Lanam stated, “I love theatre because I believe in its power to change people’s lives and inspire them to live better lives.” As for his summers when Northern has no theatre productions, “I always do ACT’s summer shows either onstage or back stage. I just love doing theatre. Other than that, I work and sometimes go on vacations with my boyfriend, Christopher Rinkenberger.” NSU has a fun surprise to look forward to next year, though. “My little sister will be joining me here at Northern as a biology major and a softball player,” said Lanam. Looks like next year campus will see Lanams in class, on stage, and on the field.