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Chasing the Dream of Broadway: Krauss continues to battle through life's challenges

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By Alex Wimsatt

HILLVIEW  – Every day people are faced with obstacles, many simply throw in the towel.

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They let opposition, lack of motivation or circumstances beyond their control discourage them. They give up on their dreams.

While others are giving up, 12-year-old Samuel Krauss has held fast to his dreams and refused to let life pass him by.

Krauss suffers from congenital muscular dystrophy, which is a disease that doesn’t allow muscle tissue to grow. He is confined to a power wheelchair but doesn’t focus on his disabilities.

Instead, Krauss focuses on his abilities and those abilities recently got him recognized by the New York City talent scout Access Broadway, which hosts competitions, workshops and talent searches.

One of Krauss’s passions in life is performing. His passion for the performing arts led him to join Classic Melodies Performance Institute, where he studied musical theater and drama, and took vocal lessons.

In April, Krauss and other Classic Melodies students competed in the Access Broadway Regional Competition in Chicago at the Marriott Hotel. Krauss won the highest possible score of platinum for singing “Impossible Dream,” from “Man of La Mancha.”

Krauss performed before a panel of judges from various professions in the entertainment industry, who awarded him a scholarship to continue his studies with Classic Melodies.

Access Broadway was Krauss’s first competition. He said he just went to support his friends and was surprised that he won.

Melodie Stacy, director of Classic Melodies, said she learned that Krauss left an impression on the judges after every one returned from Chicago and an agent contacted her to say that Access Broadway was interested in Krauss.

Stacy said Access Broadway representatives were very impressed with Krauss’s performances during the competition and asked for his resume.

Krauss learned that the talent agency took notice of him when Stacy made an announcement during a Classic Melodies class.

“My heart rate gets higher when I talk about it. It was so exciting and still is,” said Krauss. “When she told me the agents noticed me, I was having an excited anxiety attack. I didn’t care that they chose me, just that they noticed me.”

Krauss said he was very nervous at the competition, but because he sang everyday and Stacy had coached him he felt confident.

Besides winning top honors for his solo rendition of “Impossible Dream,” Krauss also sang and danced to a medley from “Chorus Line,” and “Hair Spray.”

He said his wheelchair was even choreographed into the dances.

Krauss was also recorded in an audition tape of sorts, performing a commercial wishing Access Broadway happy anniversary. He said each performer was recorded and the tapes were then distributed to talent scouts.

Krauss has loved to sing as long as he could remember. He first performed on his front porch at a very young age when he and his family lived in Louisville.

“I always liked singing because I could get away,” said Krauss. “Other kids can play sports, I can sing. I love it.”

Krauss said one of the reasons he enjoyed singing was because he could express himself. He recalled one occasion when he sang a song and really got into it.

“It was some how emotional and artistic. It’s like letting yourself out,” she said.

Krauss also likes the feelings he gets when he sings, particularly the adrenaline rush he experiences when he’s applauded.

Krauss gets very nervous when he performs; he gets jitters and sometimes his hands tingle. But the more he performs, the less nervous he becomes.

Krauss has taken lessons at Classic Melodies for two years. He said he loves what he has learned and the friends he has made.

“I’m extremely psyched after classes. It’s so exciting. I’m doing what I love. It’s just wonderful,” he said.

Krauss learned technique and dance, notes and how to read notes. He said Stacy taught him so many things.

One of the most relevant techniques he learned dealt with singing. Krauss said Stacy taught him to drop his jaw to improve the sound of his voice. This technique allowed him to sing louder and project from his diaphragm.

Besides singing and performing, Krauss said he also learned theater etiquette.

“Melodie teaches us how to act, how to sing, we learn many techniques,” said Krauss. “She also teaches us how to talk to people and how to make your acting real.”

With regard to his disability, Krauss said it makes things more difficult, but he finds that he has to overcome it. He finds inspiration in many people, but his parents have encouraged him the most.

“They help me a lot and let me know I can do anything. Some kids don’t have the chance to express themselves, but I can express myself at Classic Melodies and at home because my parents support me,” said Krauss.

Stacy and his classmates at Classic Melodies have inspired him as well, Krauss mentioned. While Krauss finds motivation and inspiration from those around him, he’s managed to inspire them as well.

“I don’t really notice his chair because his talent is so much greater than any disability he has,” said Stacy. “I have never heard him complain and I have never seen him with a bad attitude. Samuel makes me proud to go to work everyday. If he isn’t complaining and he isn’t letting his disability stand in the way of accomplishing anything then I know that I can’t ever let anything stand in my way either.”

Krauss’s mother, Rhonda Krauss, said her son is her biggest inspiration.

“I’m his biggest fan,” she said.

Rhonda said her son loved to sing since he was very young. She could remember him singing on the porch as a young child.

“He didn’t care if he had an audience or not, he just loved to sing,” said Rhonda. “He still sings like that. He sings in the shower, he sings when we walk around the block, in the car, anywhere.”

Krauss said he wanted to continue focusing on singing and acting with Classic Melodies. He enjoys singing more than acting. He said singing was his strong point and he needed to work on acting.

He said someday he would like to perform in front of thousands of people; however, he said he would not do it for money.

If Krauss did make any money from performing, he would want it to go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

When Krauss isn’t singing or studying at Classic Melodies studio, he likes hanging out with his friends and play video games. His favorite video game is Halo 3 and he loves playing on his brother’s XBox 360.

Krauss also likes to watch TV and movies. One of his favorite TV shows is “Icarly.” His favorite movie is “Cheaper by the Dozen,” which he said he watches every night to help him fall asleep.

Krauss is also a big fan of “American Idol,” which he’s watched since it first aired.

Someday he would like to be on the show, even if it’s just to audition. He said he’s looking forward to turning 16 so he can qualify to compete.

Krauss has three siblings, Adam, Mark and twin sister Emma, whom he insists he is six minutes older than, but she says otherwise.

Among Krauss’s accomplishments, he has given inspirational speeches, appeared on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and worked as an ambassador with the Muscular dystrophy Association.

“I don’t let anything hold me back,” said Krauss. “It’s not about what you can’t do it’s about what you can do.”