Alum Spotlight: Annaliese Wilbur in Broadway in Detroit Funny Girl cast
A superstar in the making, Alum Annaliese Wilbur, Class of 2018, earned several accolades while at Bloomfield Hills High School. Wilbur participated in volleyball, theater, forensics, Model United Nations, orchestra, and choir! These activities were considered simply fun extracurriculars at the time since Wilbur’s initial career goal was engineering. Wilbur remarked, “I grew up in an automotive family…going to Woodward dream cruises and thinking I was going to grow up to be an Engineer.” During Wilbur's time in high school, interests and aspirations shifted from engineering to medicine and research, specifically neuroscience and biomedical research. Additionally, Wilbur developed a passion for musical theater and received dance training at a local dance academy, discovered personal singing and acting talent through choir and performing on the high school stage, and further sharpened their performance skills by being part of the Bloomfield Players community theater group.
After graduating from Bloomfield Hills Schools, Wilbur enrolled at Syracuse University. While the university provided Wilbur with a unique opportunity to pursue neuroscience and minor in musical theater, science classes started becoming a source of dread, whereas musical theater continued to bring happiness. Wilbur recounts loudly singing the score to Newsies while studying different colors of algae and thinking, “maybe I’m in the wrong calling.” Fortuitously, Wilbur landed a role in a college production of Newsies and knew what to do!
Wilbur auditioned for the Boston Conservatory and was accepted with a merit scholarship within weeks. Wilbur graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a tap and musical theater dance specialization. In the last year at the Conservatory, senior students traveled to New York City to put on a showcase for Broadway talent agents. Wilbur humbly explains, “I was very, very lucky, and I had this incredible agency [take] interest in me, saying ‘we want to sign you immediately, we want to put you out into the world, we want to be on your team!’” Wilbur had already signed an entertainment cruise contract, but decided to take a leap of faith, postpone the contract, and move to New York and sign with the agency.
Astonishingly, it only took a few short weeks for Wilbur to be offered a professional position as a Swing (a performer who understudies several ensemble roles) in the touring company of the smash hit musical, Funny Girl. Wilbur’s cast recently performed with Broadway in Detroit at the Fisher Theater. Wilbur loved exiting the stage door theater door after each performance to many smiling, delighted friends and admirers. Performing on a hometown stage was, “nothing short of a dream,” exclaimed Wilbur.
Wilbur proudly credits Bloomfield Hills High School Choir teacher, Jessica Riley, with contributing to their success. Wilbur fondly remembers performing in the show, A Chorus Line, at BHHS, commenting, “I had never had a voice lesson before that show…Jessica Riley's music direction was crucial to my journey in this life, I owe her so much.” Other high school highlights include participating in Forensics, winning a State Championship for the Multiple category (2017), and Model United Nations, when Wilbur took home a Best Delegate award (2018).
Wilbur has some advice to high school students who are interested in a career in musical theater, “Start your research and preparation early, over the summer before your senior year, and get the help that you need - don't be afraid to reach out to people.” Bloomfield Hills Schools is so proud of Wilbur’s success and looks forward to following this superstar’s career!