BY RACHEL SHARPE
Nate Promkul walks on stage for the senior Variety Show, strikes a chord on his guitar and leans into the microphone. On hearing the first, gentle note, the crowd erupts into cheers and applause. With undoubtedly one of the sweetest and most soulful voices at CCHS, Promkul has been serenading his audiences since his freshman year, his talent never ceasing to amaze everyone who watches him perform.
Promkul is a natural born singer. Ever since he was little, Promkul would sing to his friends and family. However, it wasn’t until his debut in Cowboy Idol, CCHS’s version of “American Idol” during his freshman year, that he really gained recognition for his standout vocals.
“After winning Cowboy Idol, everyone came up to me in the hallway and told me to join the drama department,” Promkul said. “I figured I had nothing to lose, so I decided to give it a shot.”
He was immediately cast in his first role as the lead in CCHS’s production of Hairspray. Promkul played Link Larkin, the teenage heartthrob who falls in love with Tracy Turnblad (played by Michelle Morales). As a sophomore with no prior acting experience, Promkul gave an effortless performance, proving that he had more than just a beautiful voice.
Promkul especially impressed Angela Thomas, CCHS’s musical theater director and acting teacher. She recognized his potential and encouraged him to continue to explore musical theater.
“Nate is a natural singer and a natural actor,” Thomas said. “When you take someone who has that natural talent and you give them technique and training, you have a star.”
Promkul easily landed the lead roles the following two CCHS musical productions as Tony in West Side Story and Robbie in The Wedding Singer, which he says has been his favorite role to date.
“I felt more of a connection to Robbie than any other character I’ve ever played,” said Promkul. “Link Larkon was this conceited and suave guy and Tony was just in love all the time. I suck at falling in love. With Robbie, he was just a cool dude who liked to play guitar and sing, like I do.”
Though he may have an easier time relating to characters that are similar to him, like Robbie, Promkul enjoys all of his roles and takes each one as an opportunity to step outside of his comfort zone. “It’s fun to pretend and be someone you’re not,” he said. “Acting lets me explore other ways of thinking and that’s really neat.”
In addition to singing and acting, Promkul also enjoys playing guitar and writing his own songs. Promkul has also competed at the district and state level for individual and group events at the annual Thespians competitions. This year, Promkul received an “Excellent” at the district level for his solo performance, as well as “Superiors” in his duet and large group performance in Footloose, both of which he will be performing at States this March.
Despite all the fame and recognition he has gained from CCHS, Promkul has remained extremely humble.
“People tell me all the time how great I am,” Promkul said. “I still don’t think I’m a good actor. I feel like there are so many people who are better than me and I’m just here awkwardly trying to act.”
Promkul is not only a star on the stage as he is also a force to be reckoned with in tennis, a sport which he took up when he was just eleven years old and has been playing ever since. His freshman year, Promkul tried out for the CCHS tennis team and has worked his way up from the number four seeded player to the number one ranked player his junior year. Surprisingly, Promkul has never had any formal training in tennis.
“Though I have a really busy schedule, I always make time to play tennis with my dad for at least an hour every day,” Promkul said.
Though balancing acting and tennis can be challenging at times, convincing his parents to let him pursue musical theater is an even greater obstacle for Promkul.
My dad really doesn’t like it,” Promkul said. “He’s cool with performing. He was even in a band himself. But he doesn’t support acting as a career path because he thinks it won’t go anywhere.”
Luckily, Promkul has an incredible support system within the CCHS drama department. His infectious personality and his charisma are the reasons why his peers gravitate towards him.
“Nate is so easy to work with,” Promkul’s Wedding Singer co-star sophomore Halle Kilman said. “He has a way of making his fellow actors comfortable on stage. We have the best sister/brother relationship there is.”
Kilman admits that she is going to miss Promkul, when he graduates.
I’ll miss having a great friend to see at school or talk to about anything,” Kilman said.
Though he will be leaving behind many great friends and memories, Promkul is excited about what comes next. He has begun auditioning for programs across the country, and has been already been accepted into prestigious schools such as Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. Though he is still uncertain where he will end up, he knows that he will definitely be studying musical theater, something Thomas thrilled about.
“I’m so glad he found this program and I’m glad he is going to follow his passion for the arts,” Thomas said.
Of course, Thomas has already thought about what she’s going to do next year without Promkul in the drama program.
“I am going to miss his voice, his smile and his laugh,” Thomas said. “Every year I lose great kids, and somehow there’s always someone waiting in the wings to fill that void. I’m sure Nate is grooming someone to take his spot when the time comes.”
In March, he will perform in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for his final performance at CCHS. Though he will be taking his final bow, Promkul feels good about how far he has come since first time stepping onto the stage at CCHS.
“A few years ago, I was shy and never really talked to other people,” Promkul said. “Acting has given me so much self-confidence and has made me feel so much better about myself as a person. Being on stage is like being home to me. It just feels right.”