Junior Chavarria shines on stage and screen

After moving from Utah to Austin, first year student making a lasting impression in musical theatre, animation


Sophie Kessler

As the narrator, junior Savannah Chavarria performs ‘Any Dream Will Do (Reprise)’ with sophomore Finn Griffith (Joseph).

Alice Scott, online-co-editor-in-chief

Whether it’s through song, acting, illustration or animation, junior Savannah Chavarria is a storyteller. 

Her love for theatre started in fifth grade. She was one of the three blind mice in Shrek the Musical

“Ever since then, I was like, ‘Yep, this is what I’m doing,’” Chavarria said. “That’s mainly why I love theater. I love to tell stories and I just want the audience to have a good time.”

Animation began in seventh grade. She worked on a small project with friends to animate different parts of a story together.

These interests grew in her hometown in Utah. But last summer, she and her family decided to make the move to Austin.

“It had been a conversation amongst my family for a long time,” Chavarria said. “We all have a lot planned for ourselves, and we felt kind of like we can’t continue what we want to do in Utah. My dad wanted to start a business, I wanted to continue doing theater with a better theater program. And then we found Austin and this area.”

Chavarria’s next move was joining the animation class and club. She participated in MacTheatre’s Princess Tea Party fundraiser, and on Jan. 28 made her McCallum debut as the Narrator, telling the story of MacTheatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

In addition to animation, junior Savannah Chavarria is well versed in both digital and traditional art. Some of her work can be commissioned via her Instagram account @altan_wing. (Art by Savannah Chavarria)

“I was really excited,” Chavarria said. “And then all of a sudden, I was thinking ‘Oh, no, Denning barely knows me. He literally trusted me with this.’ I was a little freaked out and a little stressed for a bit. But ever since rehearsals have been going. I’ve been more confident in myself.”

Despite being the new kid at school, Chavarria has already started to make her mark.

“Working with Savannah has been really fun because she’s always so upbeat and energetic and it’s kind of infectious,” sophomore cast member Ava Diviney said. “She’s made friends with everyone and she’s only known them for a few months.”

Over the past two months, she has had daily rehearsals spent memorizing music, taking care of her voice, and learning choreography.

“She’s a very hard worker but not in an obnoxious way,” Diviney continued. “She has the most to memorize out of everyone in the show and she was the first fully memorized.”

Chavarria has many of her own routines in place as well to help her better prepare for the show.

“This has been the biggest role I’ve ever gotten,” Chavarria said.” I do vocal warm ups every day. I try not to have as much sugar as I can [because] I have a really bad Dr. Pepper addiction. I like to look over my script every single day just to get it in my head because I have a lot to memorize.”

But in addition to her daily routines for theatre, Chavarria also finds time for the second form her storytelling takes: animation.

“I really love how you’re able to bring [art] to life,” Chavarria said. “Through drawing, you can manipulate it, you can make it look however you want. It could be something no one has ever seen before.”

With an already developed talent for animation, Chavarria joined animation at Mac and instantly made an impression on her classmates and animation advisor Tim Carroll.

She understands story and communication. And this will work for animation. She understands drama and timing. That’s higher level animation and she’s already there.

— animation teacher Tim Carroll

“This will be my third year McCallum and a lot of the kids here are precocious and unbelievably talented; even within that group, she stands out here,” Carroll said. “And what does she stand out with? Not just her visual abilities, but she’s also funny and has a dynamic personality. And no surprise, turns out, she’s an actor.”

Part of what sets Chavarria apart is her skills in theatre, which help add depth to the storyline of what she is creating. 

“That’s uncommon for someone her age,” Carroll said. “She understands story and communication. And this will work for animation. She understands drama and timing. That’s higher level animation and she’s already there.”

And with her higher level of understanding, Chavarria works to help fellow students in animation and share what she knows.

“She brings a level up within the class for others, and that’s by example” Carroll said. “The other people can see what she’s doing. And also she’s really generous with helping other people.  Sometimes people who are destined to be or already are very artistic, they’ll be so into themselves. She’s the opposite. She’s very empathetic in the way she connects with people.”

It is the loud, energetic yet kind personality of Chavarria’s that draws others to her, but it is her talent and drive that gets them to stay, watch and hear her story.

“This sounds like hyperbole, but I am convinced she’s going to make a dent in some sort of media art,” Carroll said. “In other words, after high school, I’m 99% certain that we’ll know her name. I just get that feeling.”