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Alumni in Action: Christy Oberndorf

Alumni in Action logoChristy OberndorfWhen Christy Oberndorf was a student at Rolling Hills Elementary, a field trip literally changed the course of her life.

“We went to see Frosty the Snowman at Country Dinner Playhouse, and I remember I was smitten,” she recalls about the moment she decided she wanted to be an actor. “I went home and told my mom ‘I have to do that.’ I think she thought I would let it go after a couple of weeks, but I begged her, for maybe a year, and she finally let me audition.”

That led to a role in Tiny Thumbelina at the Country Dinner Playhouse when Oberndorf was just nine years old.

“My entire fourth grade class came to watch me. I told my mom I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”

That’s how an athletic youngster from a sports-oriented family began years of training in acting, singing, and dancing. Oberndorf studied at the now-defunct Academy of Theater Arts and took every choir and theater class that she could at Falcon Creek Middle School and Grandview High School, where she worked with choir teacher Darin Drown and theater teacher Brianna Lindahl.

“Christy was a joy to work with,” Lindahl said. “She was an extremely talented high school actress. She has a fun personality, and her positive energy and smile are infectious! She was a kind and loving high school student as was evident in her work with our students with special needs. I was fortunate to teach her and direct her here at Grandview.”

Christy OberndorfDuring her sophomore year of high school, Oberndorf decided she wanted to study acting in college. Her parents, who are both bankers, her older brother, who is an engineer, and her older sister, who is a physical therapist, supported her decision 100 percent.

“They immediately jumped in… My mom bought five books on how to get into theater colleges,” Oberndorf laughed.

She graduated from Grandview in 2015, and with her family’s blessing, headed to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to study theater. Four years later, she was ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple. She moved to New York City in early March 2020. Her first audition was for the national touring company of the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray, which tells the story of a girl who dreamed of being on a TV dance show in Baltimore in the 1960s, and how she helped to integrate the show in the process. The auditions attracted hundreds of hopefuls.

“There was a line that wrapped around three blocks in New York City. You couldn’t even get in the building, the line was so long,” she said.

Sadly, nothing ever came of that audition. Days later, the world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oberndorf put her dreams on hold temporarily, and moved back to Colorado. As the world started to open back up, she did several shows at the Boulder Dinner Theater and the Arvada Center, but Broadway continued to tug at her heartstrings. She returned to NYC in March 2022, and some months later, got an invitation through an actors’ portal to audition again for the national tour of Hairspray.

“I was really excited! This is one of my favorite shows,” she said. However, the night before her audition, there was a glitch in the system and she received an email saying she had been “uninvited.” The next morning, her roommate said she needed to go anyway. “I realized she was right and I threw on a dance outfit and some false eyelashes and ran to Times Square.”

Hairspray dance numberWhat followed were four days of callbacks and hours of singing and dancing. When all was said and done, Oberndorf had earned a place in the Hairspray ensemble.

“I’m really lucky my roommate told me to get my butt down there,” Oberndorf laughed. “It’s been amazing! A dream come true! I feel really grateful to be here, and I’m still pinching myself.”

Oberndorf started rehearsals last September and has been touring the country ever since.

“Being on a tour is such a blessing because otherwise, you spend your life auditioning, every day, for hours,” she explained. “For right now, I’m just enjoying being a performer and not an auditioner.”

Next month, she comes home to Denver for a week of performances at the Buell Theater.  

“It feels really surreal because I grew up going to see shows at the Buell,” she said. “It’s going to be crazy standing on the stage that I’ve been looking at since I was a little girl. I can’t wait, I’m counting the days!”

Christy OberndorfHer family and friends, including a large contingent from Grandview High School, will be there to cheer her on. Oberndorf is grateful for the education and training she received at GHS. She believes it helped get her to where she is now.

“Absolutely. Grandview is a big school and it is very competitive. It taught me that if I wanted something, I really had to work hard to earn it,” she said. “I put the work in because there were so many kids at school who were so talented and so good at so many things, that you really had to put in the work.”

Oberndorf is thoroughly enjoying her first national tour, but when it ends, she will start auditioning again. Her next stop may be another tour, or a Broadway show, or something in TV or film. Regardless, she is excited to keep working hard. She has this advice for others who might be thinking of pursuing a career in the performing arts.

“First and foremost, make sure it comes from a love and a passion for the craft,” Oberndorf said. “It can get really hard and discouraging and there are lots of obstacles and rejections, but I really think if you put in the hard work, and you let that passion drive you, you’ll be able to achieve your dreams.”  

One of Oberndorf’s dreams will come true when she performs for family and friends in Denver.

“It feels really special to come back and perform for people who have believed in me for so long. I can’t wait to make them proud,” she said.

Enjoy Hairspray at the Buell Theater March 5-10. Get more information and tickets here.

Posted 2/13/2024.