When Saline High School senior Dominic Dorset began applying for college musical theatre programs, he knew wanted to gain entrance into Michigan’s prestigious program. He emailed Broadway Star Brynn O’Malley, a Saline alumna and Michigan graduate. Dorset recalled her advice.
“She said you need to work hard. This isn’t something that’s going to be put on a plate and put in front of you. You need to work hard and go get it,” Dorset said. “I took that to heart and worked really, really hard. And now, I’m where I wanted to be.”
Last Thursday, in a “signing ceremony” usually reserved for student athletes, Dorset “committed” to the University of Michigan. There were no papers to sign or commitments to make. But school principal David Raft believed it was a feat worthy of community recognition.
Dorset, the son of Darren and Wendy Dorset, has starred in musicals at Saline High School since his freshman year.
The process of applying for a musical theatre program is arduous. Dorset filled out applications for 10 schools. He sent video to each school. Round two of the process included live auditions. Last month, Dorset auditioned at the University of Michigan.
“It was an eight-hour process. You dance and sing and act,” Dorset said. “I got a call last Wednesday from the Dean of the music school. She called and congratulated me on being admitted to the University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre Program. The last four months have been a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely paid off.”
For Dorset, Michigan was the school.
“Most of the alumni end up working in the field. Many of them have been on Broadway,” Dorset said.
Dorset is also familiar with faculty and students in the program. He worked with faculty during a three-week camp last summer.
“I lived on campus and took classes there for three weeks. It was just an all-around great experience,” Dorset said.
It was during the camp Dorset decided he wanted to dedicate his life to the art, but Dorset has always loved acting and drama.
“I love becoming a different person. With each show there is a new character you can ‘put on.’ You can tell a story and affect people’s lives through the power of the arts. It’s awesome, to me, to know I can be part of that,” Dorset said.
One of Dorset’s favorite roles “Doody” from Grease, the Saline High School production in his freshman year.
“I got to be one of the T-birds, the youngest one, who they all make fun of. But that was really cool because I was a freshman and I got to have a very big role,” Dorset. “I got to hang out with all these upperclassmen who kind of raised me in after school activities.”
The University of Michigan will be working with a well-rounded performer. Dorset also plays piano and violin. Many from Saline will recognize him as a featured player in the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic,” Dorset.
Rebecca Groeb has been watching Dorset since he was a fourth grade student playing Michael Banks in the junior theatre production of Mary Poppins. Groeb said Dorset has always been curious and eager to learn about theatre. He was also a natural performer.
“From the very beginning, he had a natural comfort on stage. As I’ve worked with him on high school productions, I notice that he has something about him that draws your eye to him. He has a natural charisma and great instincts,” Groeb said. “He’s a strong dancer and he works very hard. All of those things add up to a terrific performer.”
Groeb has been helping Dorset with theatre school applications since the fall. So she was elated when Dorset learned he’d been accepted.
“I’m thrilled for him. This is the dream school if you’re a musical theater kid,” Groeb said.
Dorset learned of his acceptance while working on the Saline High School Drama Club musical, The Music Man.
“He was working on his last musical here at Saline when he found out and he was able to share the news with his cast,” Groeb said. “We are thrilled for him and can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.”
Saline High School Principal David Raft has watched Dorset grow since first grade.
“He’s so talented and he’s a great young man. We’re very proud of him,” Raft said.
“College signings” are commonly held for student athletes at Saline High School. Raft said the school is proud of all of its students who are headed off to do bigger things. So he organized this “college signing” to recognize Dorset’s moment.
“We do a really good job recognizing the student athletes going on to do things at the next level. But we have so many other things going on,” Raft said. “Our arts departments are filled with talented young people. Our career tech programs have great kids with great skills that are in demand. So we need to do a better job recognizing all the excellence in the high school.”
Dorset appreciated the ceremony.
“This was cool. This usually happens for athletic kids only. I know there are other kids in school who’ll also be signing for non-athletic events later today,” Dorset said. “Everybody else works hard as well, so It’s cool to be recognized for that.”