Theater student takes the stage for lead role in ‘Richard III’

By Shelby Pendowski | 9/26/12 6:17pm

“Richard III” debuts tomorrow as part of Grand Valley State University’s 19th annual Shakespeare Festival with several female lead roles, including one by senior Lauren Masud, who portrays the character Lady Anne.

Masud began acting at eight years old, and stepped into the spotlight for the first time as a fairy in Cinderella.

“I love acting because it offers an escape from the everyday dulls for the audience and me,” Masud said. “I never grew out of playing make believe.”

She is a veteran of the Shakespeare Festival at GVSU, but this is her first lead role in one of the productions.

“Auditions are always quite nerve racking, but I was prepared and excited to be there,” Masud said. “I gave it my best, and made the judges laugh, which is always a great thing.”

When she received her part, she said was beyond ecstatic. “This has been something I have wanted, and worked toward for a long time,” she said. To help prepare for her role, Masud read other texts along with the script for research and discovered things about the part, which have helped her onstage.

“Richard III” is one of Shakespeare’s dark plays, but a popular production. Masud said the audience can relate to the play because, “everyone deals with heartache on some level and the sometimes terrible decisions that are made during those times.”

She relates well to her character, and said she thinks audiences will, too.

“She makes mistakes – although her mistakes are a lot more detrimental than most of mine, she is still portrayed with that human trait that some characters do not possess,” Masud said. “This role has been the highlight of my career. I am so thankful and excited to be a part of this production.”

She said working with the other cast members has been an unforgettable experience, and one that has helped her make a group of very diverse friends.

For the festival, director Karen Libman brought in professional actors to perform side-by-side with the students, who have served as mentors.

“I plan on continuing my career in advertising in public relations, along with theater,” Masud said. “I will never stop acting. I get withdrawals if I do not.” She encourages people to come and watch the show, and hopes people realize how much work has gone into the production.

“Richard III” opens tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. Tickets can be purchased at the box office inside the Performing Arts Center or online at

“I love being able to act with so many of my closest friends and such talented, professional actors as well,” Masud said. “The hardest part is always after the last performance. It is surprising how hard it can be to say goodbye to a production.”

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