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Minnetonka High School Senior Aspires for Broadway

Student Spotlight: Karl Amundson has a lead in the upcoming fall musical "The Secret Garden."

Karl Amundson lives in Northfield, about an hour south of Minnetonka, but attends Minnetonka High School.

“I live with my aunt and uncle in Eden Prairie throughout the week so I can attend Minnetonka,” said Amundson, a senior. “I transferred here so I could have more theater opportunity. The Minnetonka theater program is amazing.”

Minnetonka Theatre is preparing for The Secret Garden.  Amundson plays Dickon, one of the children who explores the hidden garden. “He's a super fun part, and I can't wait to get onstage,” said Amundson.

He credits several mentors in the theater department for helping him build his skills. “Kent Knutson, John Lynn and Trent Boyum have all played a big part in my transition into the school as well as my growth as an actor,” he said.  “I am deeply grateful to them.”

Amundson is already making a name for himself in theater.  He won the Spotlight award for outstanding performance in a leading role for his performance in Legally Blonde: The Musical.

He has also had key roles in RENT at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis as well as high school productions of West Side Story and Sound of Music

Last year, Amundson was in Minnetonka's one act play, Equus, which won outstanding performance at the state championships.

Amundson said he doesn’t have a favorite role. “As long as I get to act, I'm happy,” he said.   

Amundson looks to Broadway actor Norbert Leo Butz for inspiration. “The name might not be familiar to non-theater geeks, but he is a spectacular Broadway performer,” said Amundson. “He knows how to wow a crowd and get deep into the core of a character.”

Amundson's first acting role was in fifth grade, playing an orphan in Oliver! He was bitten by the acting bug.

“I love reactions from an audience,” he said. “Theater is all about the relationship between performers and their audience. Every performance is different because every audience is different.”

Amundson admits he still gets stage fright. “It's like the nervous feeling you get when you're at the top of a roller-coaster and you're preparing to plummet down,” he said. “Adrenaline rushes through you.”

Amundson has a pre-stage ritual. “I almost always eat a banana before a performance, even before rehearsal,” he said. “It's been a tradition for a few years now.”

Hopefully, his hard effort will pay off. “My dream is to become a professional actor,” said Amundson. 

How do his parents feel about his career choice?  “They are super supportive, so I'm grateful for that,” he said. The Amundson family includes parents Jane and Steven and sister Beret.

Amundson is an honor roll student at Minnetonka High School and takes classes in the international baccalaureate (IB) program. “Minnetonka has one of the best IB programs in the country, and my old school didn't offer any IB classes,” he said.

One of his favorite classes is IB Economics. “It is such an interesting class because it is applicable to everyday life and to relevant world issues,” he said.

The economy is a key issue in the upcoming presidential election. “I believe political discussion among youth is very important,” said Amundson.

“I hope our country can learn to unite and get something done,” he added. “We are becoming more polarized, which means it's becoming more important for right-wingers, left-wingers and middle-roaders to work together and compromise with whoever is elected president.”

When Amundson isn’t studying or rehearsing, you might find him playing in a band with friends.

“My band is unofficially called Floot Platune,” said Amundson, who plays violin, piano and guitar. “We generally play folk music. One of our biggest inspirations is the band Trampled by Turtles.”

He is also a movie buff. “When I get the chance, I love going to the movie theater or renting a classic,” said Amundson, whose personal collection includes about 200 DVDs.  Favorites include Pulp Fiction, The Social Network and The Graduate.

He admits to seeing the movie Airplane! more than 20 times. “I've lost count, but I'm pretty sure I've reached 25 viewings,” he laughed.

Amundson also likes to read in his free time. Recent reads include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. “Check them out,” he suggested.

This fall, Amundson is focusing on the college search. “As most seniors know, it’s a pretty terrifying process,” he said. “But I'm excited to get a move on with my life and career.”

He hopes to enroll in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program for musical theatre. University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music are at the top of his list. 

“Since I'm planning on majoring in theatre, I not only have to apply to schools, but I also have to audition,” he explained.

Amundson has faced challenges before.  At age five, he was diagnosed with diabetes.

“Lots of people assume that diabetes is a big burden for me, but sometimes, I forget that I even have it,” said Amundson, who manages his condition with insulin injections and a healthy diet. “I feel like I live a very normal life.” 

Amundson had the energy needed to keep up with three children this summer in his job as a “manny,” a male nanny.

“What I like most is playing with the kids,” he said. “I love feeling like a kid again. During adolescence, you reach a certain point where being ridiculous is unacceptable. I suppose that's why I like theatre. There is always an excuse to be ridiculous.”

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