By: Lillian Lema, Staff Writer
This holiday season, Lyric Music Theater is presenting Elf: The Musical. USM senior communications major, Cameron Ramich, is taking center stage as Buddy in this South Portland theater production.
“I just knew that I was the character and I have been my whole life. I just knew that this was an opportunity for me that I couldn’t say ‘no’ to,” Ramich said.
The holiday story follows Buddy’s journey to New York City after discovering he is a human and not an elf. He heads to the Big Apple in search of his father with a mission to get him from the naughty to nice list.
Being able to take on the role of Buddy is a dream for Ramich because of the influence the character has had on his life. “I see myself a lot in Buddy… not only am I a Christmas freak like he is, but I also have a very optimistic mindset like Buddy,” Ramich said. “It’s important when you’re in a negative mindset or low period to find the positives around you that could lift you up.”
This optimistic mindset gave Ramich the push he needed to audition for his first role ever.
Ramich grew up in a musical family, but he didn’t get his start in theater until he was 16 years old. During his junior year at Lisbon High School Ramich had his onstage debut as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.
His late start in musical theater was due to the fear of showing signs of being gay. In his early years, he wasn’t comfortable with sharing this part of himself to the public. He describes his first onstage experience as “a window being opened and finally being able to breath.”
Since having the courage to participate in musical theater, Ramich has been involved in community shows. His repertoire consists of playing Donkey in Shrek: The Musical, a prince in Into the Woods and Bobby in Urinetown: The Musical.
At the age of 20, Ramich got the opportunity to direct the musical The Addams Family for Midcoast Youth Theater. “All of these roles have led up to right now, where I am at in my life as Buddy,” Ramich said.
Preparing for the show consists of a three-hour rehearsals from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. four days out of the week. On top of rehearsing for the show, Ramich is a full-time student finishing up his degree and works on the weekends at Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room as a waiter. Ramich’s busy schedule does overwhelm him, but he is constantly reminding himself why and who he is doing the show for.
Besides doing the show to make his family, friends and boyfriend proud, Ramich’s biggest motivation is himself. “I’m doing it for my own self-growth to have this flamboyant character who has been an influence in my life and use that to prove to myself, who was younger, who was afraid of that flamboyant that you could use it for power and overcome all the negatives that people threw at you,” Ramich said.
The power of the performing arts is one that is very significant to Ramich. “Theater has such a powerful way of reminding the young self how powerful you really are no matter who says you’re not,” Ramich said.
Ramich is using his identity for growth, and power as a way to show those who ever laughed at him and put him down that he is triumphing.
For more information on Elf: The Musical at the Lyric Music Theater in South Portland visit lyricmusictheater.org