Some people wait a lifetime for the chance to perform at the Lincoln Center in New York City. For Sarah Burke, that opportunity is coming early in her career.
The 20-year-old actress and singer who grew up in Lackawanna County will be performing at the Lincoln Center’s Spring Gala Musical Celebration of Herman, Menken and Sondheim on Tuesday alongside stars such as Rita Moreno.
“When I saw the email, I almost died,” Burke said.
Burke said the opportunity to perform with Moreno is “a dream come true.”
“I’ve idolized her since I saw her in ‘West Side Story,’” she said. “It’s humbling and a privilege.”
She was recommended for the performance by a teacher from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she attended college, and said the chance to honor composers Jerry Herman, Alan Menken and Stephen Sondheim is “surreal.”
“It means the world to me,” Burke said. “I’m so blessed to be doing this.”
In high school, she performed in musicals by those composers, such as Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!” and Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” and has connected to their music throughout her education and career.
Burke, who graduated from Valley View High School in 2015, finished her education at AMDA this past February. Since then, she has been working full time while she goes out on auditions and call-backs. The performance at the Lincoln Center is something she didn’t think was in the cards so early on in her career.
“I never imagined this happening so quick,” she said.
While she said she always loved performing, she learned the business side of performance when transitioning from high school to college and not to take things personally if an audition doesn’t lead to a role.
“As much as you love the craft, you learn how it becomes a business,” she said.
Throughout her journey, Burke said she has had supportive teachers at AMDA and even has a group of friends she auditions with.
She said she owes a lot to both the music and English faculty at Valley View in Archbald.
“They helped me grow as an individual and professional,” she said.
Her biggest supporters, she said, are her mother, Marisa, and sister, Rachel.
“I owe everything to them,” she said.
Burke said her family, now living in Mountain Top, has always supported her career aspirations, and she is very fortunate to have that relationship with them.
Her advice to other aspiring performers is to “embrace the ups and downs,” stay passionate about the craft, and work hard and stay focused.
“Don’t let anything stop you.”
Reach Brigid Edmunds at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.