20 Under 25: Ryan Monroe 

Singer, 17, St. Petersburg

Ryan Monroe with the Walker's Rising Star medallion.

Todd Bates

Ryan Monroe with the Walker's Rising Star medallion.

High note: Ryan, now going into his senior year at PCCA, won a $7,000 Walker's Rising Stars Scholarship this spring, taking first place (and a Fan Favorite award) in the vocal music competition. The much-sought-after scholarships are awarded by the Pinellas Education Foundation.

That voice: Boyish in appearance, he has a soaring baritone that's strikingly mature and polished, with an intelligent understanding of phrasing and theatrics. His voice is so good, in fact, that when he sang an intentionally off-key rendition of "Over the Rainbow" for a junior class cabaret, the audience immediately got the joke.

A keen sense of humor is one of his strong points: The song for which he won the Walker's prize was called "The Plane," about a guy who's terribly anxious about flying — even though, as you find out by the end of the song, the plane hasn't even taken off yet. "it was definitely a comical piece," says Ryan.

His favorite role, though, was serious. He played God. Or, as he was referred to in the musical Children of Eden, Father. He played the role, "my biggest challenge," during his third year in the intensive musical theater program for high school students held at Oklahoma City University, alma mater of such Broadway luminaries as Kristen Chenoweth and Kelli O'Hara. (It's one of his top four choices for college.)

Speaking of playing God: Ryan's a director, too — and a producer. He organized and staged a production of The Laramie Project during Pride Month this past June at The Studio@620. "I just wanted to get the message out." He's considering studies in arts management as well as musical theater; no wonder his theater teacher at PCCA, Keven Renken, calls him a "Renaissance person."

Where'd all this talent come from: Neither of his parents are in the arts — mom's a teacher, dad's a contractor — but his mom tells him was singing at a very young age. The family has videos of him at a very young age singing on the couch — "and kicking my sister off the couch because it was my stage."

Next up — Phantom? That's the big musical under consideration for next year at PCCA. He's already started practicing "Music of the Night."

Watch Ryan perform: youtube.com/user/TheRyanMonroe.


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