Chris Sciaudone was the biggest fan of his daughter Lauren’s vocal talents.
Chris, a Guerin Catholic High School boys tennis coach, died Feb. 17 after a six-year battle with brain cancer.
“He showed all the videos of Lauren performing whether you wanted to see them or not,” said Lauren’s mother, Stephanie Sciaudone.
Lauren was in rehearsal for Guerin Catholic’s spring musical, “Into the Woods,” when her father went into hospice.
“I did question whether I was going to continue, but I thought I have to do it,” said Lauren, a Westfield resident who will be a Guerin senior in August. She knew her dad would have been disappointed if she didn’t take advantage of any opportunities she had.
“The school dedicated the whole show to him, which was so amazing,” Stephanie said of the musical in late March. “Now, she feels she is going to dedicate (her performances for him). He loved her performing. Wherever he might be, he’s watching.”
He would indeed be a very proud father this month as Lauren was selected as one of the 40 finalists from across the U.S. to participate in the Songbook Academy, a summer intensive set for July 16 to 23 at the Great American Songbook Foundation’s home at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
Her mother had called her with the news she was selected.
“I didn’t even believe it,” Lauren said. “I applied last year and didn’t make it. I got a call from my mom, and she said I was accepted. I kept asking, ‘Really, I did?’ It’s crazy to think that of all the people that auditioned, I was one of the people that got accepted. To get this opportunity to sing at the Palladium, it’s crazy. It was so exciting.”
Lauren said being selected is another way of reassuring herself that she has the talent.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said.
Peter Fulton, a Fishers resident who was a Songbook Academy finalist in 2019, encouraged her throughout the process.
“He’s been guiding me the whole way,” Lauren said. “He knows so much about everything. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would (have) auditioned.”
Lauren has friends from theater who have been Songbook Academy participants in the past.
Lauren said the Songbook Academy mentors offer feedback in positive ways.
“It’s very helpful and I feel this is going to be a really good opportunity to show off my voice but also to improve with these professionals who have been doing this forever,” she said. “The feedback I’m getting is going to be so, so helpful. It is really going to change me and how I view singing and performing.”
Lauren said traditional Broadway songs fit her style the best.
“I love Dolly Parton. My grandparents always had her on (TV),” Lauren said.
Lauren was supposed to perform at Country Tonight Music Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the show. Sciaudone’s vocal teacher, Lynne Mlott, finds opportunities for her students to perform in front of audiences.
“She introduced Lauren to CarmelFest Has Talent,” Stephanie said. “She didn’t think she was ready, but Lauren on stage just lights up the place.”
Lauren finished third in the 12-and-under age group in the 2017 CarmelFest Has Talent. She was scheduled to perform again July 3 but was suffering from laryngitis and had to cancel.
Lauren performed in Junior Civic when she was younger.
“When there was a role for my age, I was auditioning because all I wanted to be was in one of those shows,” she said.
She also has performed as Kim McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” at The Biz Academy of Musical Theatre in Avon, and as a young Bonnie Parker in “Bonnie and Clyde” at Buck Creek Players. She performed in “Amber Waves” at Indiana Repertory Theatre when she was 14.
“I was an understudy, and I was called on to go on,” she said. “It was so nerve racking. It was one of the coolest experiences because I got to perform with such well-known professionals.”
Lauren sang Christmas songs at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt in 2021.
“Other than IRT, this was her first paying gig,” Stephanie said. “To see people watch her perform and get the feedback was a great opportunity. It was so much fun because there were speakers all over there. It was really awesome.”