Senior Gustafson a star ready to shine


Kari Radaios

Senior Haley Gustafson rehearses her role of Eva Perron in ‘Evita’ with senior Max Larsen, junior Justin O’Brien, sophomore Alex Sepeczi and senior Ryan Kelleher.

It’s common knowledge that the Cary-Grove music and theater department is full of spectacular talent. Some students are even stretching outside of C-G performance, like Haley Gustafson.

Gustafson is a senior who has been in the fall play, spring musical and spring play all four years of high school. Even though she had never performed outside of C-G, when Gustafson was told about a chance to play the lead role of Veronica for the musical Heathers as part of the Up and Coming Theater Company in Arlington Heights, she couldn’t resist.

Ever since Gustafson discovered the musical, she was enamored with it.

“I thought, ‘One day, I want to play this character,’” she said of Veronica Sawyer. The musical itself also appealed to her.

“I like to describe it as Mean Girls, but with more murder.”

Although this seems gruesome, the musical is very relevant, as Gustafson points out that the issues of “school shootings, depression and even bulimia” are touched on in the production.

Through this role, Gustafson was nominated for the Broadway in Chicago Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Gustafson was one of the few who made it to the finalist round, a first for any Cary-Grove student. Several other C-G students and alumni were nominated for their work in ensembles: junior Justin O’Brien, seniors Urvaksh Avanthsa and Ryan Kelleher and grads Carly Vadnais, Kelsey Krigas, Mitch Kedzior, Sarah Kedzior, and Katie Kelleher.

Although Gustafson didn’t win the award, her passion for theater, music and dance continues.

Gustafson started out as just a dancer, but the performing arts have always been a part of her life through her family.

“I have a very musical family,” Gustafson said, which she believes let to her long love of the fine arts.

The first time she knew that theater was for her was after seeing Les Miserable at C-G when her brother was in it.

“I sat in the audience and thought, ‘I want to do that when I get to high school,’” she said.

Gustafson has had several auditions for college, including one in Cincinnati. Her “reach” school is Julliard, which is the country’s top university for the performing arts. Even if she doesn’t go into performance, Gustafson wants to write for theatre or be a choreographer.

“This is what I love to do. I want to do this for the rest of my life,” she said.

Given that Gustafson has found a way to shine even among the talented members of the C-G fine arts department, she seems on track to achieve that goal.