Oak Park Alumni : Jonalyn Saxer

Jonalyn Saxer reps Oak Park in Broadway


Photo Courtesy of Joan Marcus

In terms of artistry, Jonalyn Saxer was "the whole package" while at OPHS

On Wednesdays, Jonalyn Saxer is not only dressed in pink, but she wears it on the stage of Broadway musical in New York.

Throughout her theatrical career, Saxer has been in a total of five Broadway shows as an ensemble performer: “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Holiday Inn,” “Cats,” and most recently, “Mean Girls.”

“I’ve also worked on workshops and readings of new productions that haven’t made it to Broadway, and I also teach a lot on the side,” Saxer wrote.

Saxer is a guest teacher at Syracuse and also does workshops of new production theater groups in New York that haven’t made it to Broadway. She usually teaches dance combinations from “Mean Girls” and other of her broadway shows.

“A lot of times I’m teaching a group of students who aren’t necessarily dancers,” Saxer wrote. “I think it’s important to be very encouraging, and I try to emphasize the importance of dance in musical theater. If, after I teach, even one student decides to take more dance classes because they had a great time, then I’ve succeeded.”

Saxer grew up in Agoura Hills and graduated from Oak Park High School in 2010. She grew up in a theatrical family, and even as a child, did shows with Cabrillo Music Theater, which is now 5 Star Theatricals, Conejo Players Theater, and the Young Artists Ensemble.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in theater, so I went to Syracuse University and got my BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts] in Musical Theater,” Saxer wrote to the Talon.

Saxer received her dance training from the California Dance Theatre and had her acting and vocal training at Syracuse University. A week and a half after her college graduation, Saxer booked her first Broadway show: “Bullets Over Broadway.”

While at Oak Park High School, Saxer was in choir, Comedy Sportz and participated in multiple shows throughout her four years.

“I was so lucky to grow in a town and school that had such a big and well supported theater and choir program,” Saxer wrote.

Saxer admitted that while at Oak Park, she wasn’t often given the lead role in plays.

“I think [my high school experiences] gave me a great mentality as I went to Syracuse. It made me work harder at the things I wasn’t as strong at, and if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have the career I have today,” Saxer wrote.

Allan Hunt, drama teacher at Oak Park High School, said it was apparent Saxer had been acting since birth.

“Jonalyn was quite well versed in training and singing, and she fit right in. She did anything we could throw at her,” Hunt said.

According to Hunt, Saxer really made her mark as lead roles in “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” along with all the other many plays she took part in at Oak Park.

“Talent is something that you don’t acquire and you aren’t born with it. As a freshman, Jonalyn had that gift, and really honed in on it,” Hunt said. “She had this quality that made everyone welcome her.”

Saxer also said that her experiences in choir helped her ability to learn music while Comedy Sportz strengthened her improv skills.

Choir teacher Heidi Cissell wrote to the Talon that Saxer was “the whole package” with her ability to sing, dance and act with equal ability.

“[Saxer] was and is a beautiful young lady inside and out,” Cissell wrote to the Talon.

Saxer believes acting in Broadway is a job where the way you interact with others counts.

“I also think it’s very important to be nice to everyone. No one wants to work with a mean or rude person,” Saxer wrote. “And in an industry where you have to constantly get re-hired and put yourself out there, you have to be sure to always be kind and considerate.”

Overall, Saxer said her passion for the things she does is what allows her to expand her career opportunities.

“Never be afraid to work hard,” Saxer wrote. “Throw yourself into what you love, and don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for trying hard or caring deeply.”