As the Baker’s wife said in the musical Into the Woods: “If you know what you want, then you go and you find it and you get it."
That is what Parsons High School Class of 2018 graduate Luke Gilmore is doing.
Following high school, he attended Oklahoma City University, where he majored in music theater, minored in mass communications and graduated summa cum laude.
“I ultimately wanted to work in the performing arts. Obviously, Broadway or national tours are the dream for everyone, but as I started getting older in my college career and started learning more about the different career paths in the industry, I started exploring arts administration a little bit more.
“Obviously, I still want to perform. That passion never went away, but I’ve been able to have more of a multifaceted approach to this career path than just auditioning and being a performer.”
Gilmore was able to gain arts administrative experience in college as the company manager of the Oklahoma City University’s Stripped, which is a student produced musical theater organization at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music. He was also the executive director of OCU’s Dance Marathon Program, which is a collegiate-wide philanthropy to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
“There are so many more avenues than I realized before even going into college. When I graduated high school, I thought there was just Broadway and film, but there is so much more than just those few pathways,” he said. “My passion has not changed, but my knowledge has broadened my horizons.”
After graduating high school, he worked for the Kansas City Ballet for a bit. He then realized he wanted to audition more, so he gained some regional performance credits in Kansas City. In his free time, he has been doing volunteer coordination for a nonprofit called Phoenix Family, a nonprofit in Kansas City, gaining some administrative insight into the nonprofit world as well.
Now, Gilmore has decided to step out and go after what he wants. Sept. 8, he is making a big move to New York City.
“It’s very fast, but I am taking my performing arts skills there,” he said. “I’m excited to begin this next chapter.”
He has not officially signed a contract, so did not speak to what he will be doing immediately. He is familiar with New York City, as he and his family has traveled there for a number of shows and to see the tourist attractions. While attending Parsons High School, he went there to perform in the Honors Performance Series with the National Honor Choir at Carnegie Hall. He also went to NYC for several workshops while attending college and was also cast in Oklahoma City University’s 2022 Theater Showcase in New York City. In addition, visited the city after graduating from the university last year.
Through all of those travels, he fell in love with the city.
“I realized from a young age I wanted to be there. I said I don’t care what it takes to make it happen, I want be there some day,” he said.
Everything he has done since graduating has helped prepare him for making that move.
“It’s so surreal having my lifelong dream coming true in this regard,” Gilmore said. “I’ve been doing what I can every day to be on the right path.”
Looking back to his time at Parsons schools, Gilmore expressed his gratitude.
“Among the many, my two greatest influences at 503 were definitely Lauren Burke and Edward Workman. They really set me off on the trajectory of my artistic career and were mentors all throughout my high school years and beyond. He said Mr. Workman not only helped him with enhancing his speaking skills, but he also helped prep him for monologue for his college audition. Ms. Burke helped him with his career as a violinist, and he still plays frequently.
“I don’t think I would be where I am now with my abilities, professionally or orchestrally, if it wasn’t for her,” Gilmore said. “She is why I decided to continue my orchestral career in college and OCU.”
Gilmore plays for weddings, chamber music ensembles and does freelance gigs.
“And as a musical performer, it is so good to be a triple threat now. You have to be able to sing, act and also play an instrument. That is one of the reasons I continued studying in college, … because it is such a valuable skill set to have,” he said. “It is why I wanted to continue that skill set and not let it go by the wayside.”
To other young people coming up in high school dreaming of moving into such a career in the arts, Gilmore said, “I think a lot of times in a small town it can be hard to follow an artistic dream, because many of the resources we have are educational. It’s not like a lot of professional resources. But what I would say is, ‘If you have a dream, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you , you can’t do something. Work hard every day. Try to create another version of yourself every day. Take as many classes as you can and don’t give up because life is too short to give up on. ... No dream is too big.”
Gilmore shared one last thought.
“I am forever grateful for my time in Parsons,” he said. “I honestly, going back to talking about trying to pursue an arts career in a small town, I don’t think I would be where I am if I didn’t have the support of the community, even after graduating. I’m very blessed to have had such a wonderful support system back home. Even when I moved to Kansas City, I’ve had that support system cheering me on every step of the way. I don’t think I would have been able to do what I’ve done and feel fulfilled in my accomplishments if I didn’t have that support system back home.”