By Kristin Schultz
On May 20, Lucy Skrebutenas was attending a prom in another district when she received word that Niskayuna’s production of “The Phantom of the Opera” won Best Musical at the High School Musical Theater Awards; Nisky also took top prize for Best Technical Execution and Best Set Construction. Skrebutenas was the show’s student-director.
“I’d been texting my friend who was at the awards,” she said. “I went to the bathroom to check my phone, saw we won and started jumping all around.”
Skrebutenas, a senior at Niskayuna High School, has been involved in theater — both on and off stage — for six years. From performing in sixth-grade productions to being the student-director for the high school’s spring musical (“Phantom”) to co-directing this year’s sell-out performance of the Drama Club’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” Skrebutenas has made it a point to take advantage of every opportunity.
During her freshman year, she was one of only three students in her grade to snag a part in the Drama Club’s play. Her sophomore and junior years, she landed lead roles. Her senior year, she was tapped to co-direct the Drama Club’s play.
“We took one look at Lucy as a freshman and said, ‘There’s our future director,’ ” said Drama Club adviser Regina Maley. “She is charming and a born leader. Everyone fell in love with her, she just draws you in.”
Even though the play wasn’t until this spring, Skrebutenas’ co-directing duties began last summer as she and other club leaders set to work choosing a production. Skrebutenas was determined to choose a play that required a large cast and featured many female roles.
“Every year I would try out for the play, the ratio of girls to guys trying out was two to one,” she said. “Kids would get upset because they would get cut not because of talent, but because of their gender. There weren’t enough roles written for the girls.”
Skrebutenas is keen on promoting women’s voices in the entertainment industry. Her dream job is to be the head writer for “Saturday Night Live,” or a writer for the show’s “Weekend Update” segment.
“I’m a huge SNL nerd,” she said. “I read a book where Tina Fey was talking about being the first female head writer on the show. I was shocked. She was the first female head writer and that only happened as recently as when I was in middle school.”
Her road to writing (or perhaps teaching) will run through Fordham University, where she will major in Spanish and may minor in theater.
“I have lots of interests outside of theater,” Skrebutenas said. “I love languages and working with kids.”
Before she heads to New York City, however, she will spend her summer working for the town’s water and sewer department and perhaps taking summer classes at Mopco, Schenectady’s improv theater.
Wherever she ends up — in a classroom, writer’s room or on stage, Skrebutenas will take the lessons she has learned in Drama Club with her.
“Drama gave me the confidence to know that being out there is OK,” she said. “I’m a ridiculous person. I’m kind of a goofball, but it’s OK to be ridiculous. If you can just be yourself and be authentic, you’ll find friends.”
Skrebutenas’ acting credits include productions at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, Proctors and other regional theater productions.
She credits her parents and club adviser Maley for helping her along her journey.
“My parents are very supportive,” she said. “We talked about college and they helped me think everything through.”
Of Maley, she said, “I don’t know how she does it. She did so much to help us with the play. We would all be texting at 2 in the morning. She helped us apply for grants, tie up loose ends, help us communicate with the administration, go on Target and Salvation Army runs. She’s so supportive and cares about every individual.”
And the Oscar goes to . . .