WHS Class of 2022: Alex Muzila, Singer, Actor, Film-Maker
Weston High School will graduate the amazing Class of 2022 on Friday, June 3 at 6 pm on the Town Green. They are amazing because of how they weathered a pandemic that cut short sophomore year, changed junior year between hybrid and in-person masked learning, and started their senior year with masks and testing. They gave up study-abroad opportunities, cut short or changed athletic seasons, and had harsh restrictions on theatrical and musical efforts. And yet, here they are–a resilient, wonderful class of 159* students, many of whom the Owl knows personally. In this final week before graduation, the Owl will highlight just a few of the many–I only wish I had thought of this earlier. Meet some of the WHS Class of 2022.
Many of you know Alex Muzila ’22 as one of the most talented artists of Weston–singer, actor, and filmmaker. The Owl has a singular bias for Alex; the Owlets got on their first yellow bus with Alex–he in 5th grade, and the Owlets in 2nd and have shared many a neighborhood get-together on trampoline, playing Magic, eating barbecues. He has given them advice, some of which they took, and some of which, because they are teenagers, they decided to find out the hard way.
I have been to many, if not most of Alex’s acting and singing performances including Weston Friendly, Weston Drama Workshop and Weston’s own public school theatre program, and to Town Criers acapella performances on the Town Green. He has been generous with time and humor in helping film the Wes-TEN when it was the “Quaren-TEN” and we were filming by iphone around the neighborhood. His humor is quick, his accents hilarious and no one ever will own the role of Bily Flynn in Chicago like Alex did this spring. No one. Richard Gere was not even close. Fight me.
If you know a “theatre kid”, you will know how hard they work and practice and sacrifice, much like athletes. And his state championships are different, and yet alike in all the hard work that goes into them: Alex recently won both a 2022 MA State Drama Fest All-Star Acting Award and a place on the 2021 NAFME All-National Honors Ensemble, among other recognitions. He will be attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts this fall.
While Alex threatens to stay behind the cameras in the future, we can only hope that he’ll be back in front of them soon enough. What he must (and yes, I’m a good friend so I can say it) do is sing forever. The Owl chatted with voice teacher extraordinaire, Bronwen Upton, for her take on Alex:
“He has been such a wonderful student to teach and to spend every week with for 7 years. He’s a hard worker, a beautiful singer, and a wonderful performer.”
“It’s not so much what he says but what he does, ” said Bronwen. “From 5th grade through to my lesson this week with him, we do exercises to warm up. Without fail every lesson, and there have been a lot, he will get 5 minutes into the exercise and then he will flip to an over-exaggerated opera sound or to some English, Welsh, Irish etc accent. He just can’t help himself. I don’t think we have had one lesson that he hasn’t done it ever.”
Owl: Have you attended Weston Public Schools all the way through? Country vs Woodland? Who was your favorite elementary school teacher?
I did go to Weston Public Schools my whole life, and I was a student at Country (sorry Woodland kids, our school is just better). I remember my favorite elementary school teacher being Mr. Morong, for 3rd grade.
Owl: What’s a favorite experience from your time in Weston?
Honestly, I’d have to say my opening night performance in the 2022 spring musical Chicago. I think it’s because while I definitely found a lot of social divides due to doing theater for all three shows of each year, having a lot of non-theater friends come out and support the show on opening night made me realize that what I’d been doing was worth it all along.
Owl: You are an extremely talented musician, singer, actor, and filmmaker — not only talented but you’ve worked really hard on all you have done. What are your plans (either at NYU or longer-term) with all of these talents?
At NYU, I definitely hope to keep studying music, if not musical theater. I applied to a first-year music-themed residence floor, so if I get into that then hopefully I’ll be able to easily surround myself with other people like me. I’ll definitely be looking to join an acapella group, but I am slightly nervous to hear about how competitive some of them may be (it’s been four years since I’ve had to audition for one!).
I’m not sure how much I’ll be doing acting-wise, since many other NYU Tisch students are actually studying a drama major, so I know that there will be a lot of other stronger performers than myself. However, being in New York City I’m sure there will always be opportunities near me to perform if I feel I want to continue acting.
I will be studying filmmaking next year for my major Film and Television Production, but I think what’s interesting is that I’m not the most film-oriented student – I really never watched much of either medium in my earlier life or now – so I’m not as experienced on the artistic side of things. I’m planning on approaching the major from a more communications-esque standpoint – having had much experience with managing groups, I’ll be looking into how to communicate my ideas through media. I will also be planning on double majoring with something either related to music or business, but nothing’s set in stone yet.
Owl: This year, you’ve been the leader of the acapella group, the Town Criers, which is entirely student-run. What does this entail—do you choose and arrange the music? How does the group work?
Town Criers definitely is the extracurricular group whose leadership I pride myself on the most. Since I partially stepped into a leadership role my sophomore year, and fully ran the group starting junior year, I’ve found the most difficult part to be learning to organize and communicate with a group of 12-13 high school guys to make sure that everyone knows what they need to (regarding music, schedules, and performances). Also, since we only meet 2 hours per week, sometimes sporadically, I’ve had to learn how to make the most of these limitations.
I co-lead the group with my friend Josh, who typically runs the music side of things (arranging and teaching our music), and I think the reason the group has had much success this year is that we’ve been able to keep the bar high and push our efficiency as a whole. Despite that, the group has always and will always remain the strongest accapella group at the high school, because of both its impressive legacy, and the fact that every member has a voice (literally!).
Owl: Tell us about the work involved in putting on a high school musical, such as the recent, and awesome, Chicago? Rehearsals are every day for six weeks or so, right?
First off, I will mention that Chicago’s show process was definitely unlike many others in my high school acting career. It was a ‘typical’ show in that, yes, we had only six weeks for rehearsals (due to the METG winter one-act Festival ending right before), and that while the first few 2-3 weeks feel pretty relaxed in terms of learning blocking and music, students have to re-enter the show process after April break with having everything memorized, which makes it a big jump for some people to adjust to.
However, the show itself is notably shorter than many other musicals as well as being very lead-heavy, meaning that there’s less blocking, music, and choreography for the ensemble to learn. We also had the benefit of requiring dance-safe platforms, meaning that we actually rented a set for this show, instead of typically constructing and painting the set ourselves, as we did earlier in the year.
The show was not without its difficulties, though, since we had limited time to work with our choreographer (only five total days!) – meaning that the dance captains had to step up in a huge way to act as cast leaders in reviewing the choreography. Massive props to Bea and Lanz! Also, although there were luckily no covid outbreaks during the show process, we did have multiple cast and crew members missing each week – and to top it all off, we woke up on opening day to the news that our conductor was in quarantine. Luckily we had Mr. Eldridge to fill the role, while also playing first piano! All in all, the show definitely turned out well because of the hard work of everyone involved.
Owl: What are the choral and other musical competitions like? Do you have to practice like athletes do for their competitions?
I participated in the Senior Districts and All-States Festivals in my sophomore and junior years, as well as the All-Eastern and All-National Festival this year. There definitely is a lot of work involved in preparing for the auditions, but they were somewhat easier during my junior and senior years because students have to submit recordings rather than perform in front of an in-person board. As a tenor one (the highest male voice part), I also have less competition when auditioning for my spot than, for instance, alto ones or soprano twos – which is why there’s such a high number of male students from Weston consistently getting into All-States and All-Easterns.
The events really were a bunch of fun–while they are competitive in terms of getting there, at the actual events everyone is very laid back since it’s just a celebration of music and the musicians who sing it. One of my fondest memories from my time at WHS was participating in this year’s All-Eastern festival, during which I stayed in Boston with a few other Weston students and worked on some of the most incredible vocal music I’ve ever experienced.
Owl: What would be your advice to an incoming WHS ninth-grader?
I’d say to really take advantage of the school’s programs, and not to overwork yourself. I know that at Weston specifically a lot of students are pressured to take hard classes, learn multiple instruments, and reach varsity sports teams to eventually be a more competitive college applicant, but I’ve found that the college process is always good at placing students with other people like them. If you focus on enjoying yourself at WHS, you’ll end up enjoying yourself wherever you end up later in life.
Owl: What will you miss most about Weston?
While I have no real preference about the size of schools, I will miss the fact that it was small enough that there was no one else like me. Although it was often difficult to be, often, the only guy in the arts, I learned a lot about my own abilities by stepping up to lead Town Criers, Team AC, the Theater Company, and being Weston Media’s first Student Ambassador. I also hold the current all-time chorus varsity points record, partially by being the only guy to do all of Acapella, Theater, and Senior Districts.
Although going to a big school next year will present its own pros and cons, I will forever appreciate that Weston was small enough for me to leave my mark on its legacy.
Owl: Who is your favorite neighbor? Is that person going to be named in your Tony and/or Oscar-award-winning speech?
Honestly, I’ll definitely have to mention my favorite neighbor Kristin Barbieri, who always supported my creative endeavors!
Oh, fine, so I led the last question. I have to entertain myself, you know. In all seriousness, Alex Muzila will be much missed at WHS and down the street here on the northside. The Owl family wishes you all the joy and success in the world, Alex, in any way you define those terms.
*enrollment as of October 2021.