High School Life: Oliver takes to stage throughout high school career

Dixon High School senior Molly Oliver has appeared in many plays and musicals since her fifth-grade debut and was chosen to Petunia royalty last summer as Pinky Petunia

Dixon High School senior Molly Oliver has appeared in many plays and musicals since her fifth grade debut.

Molly Oliver, a senior at Dixon High School, remembers the first time she dipped her toes into the acting pool.

“I was in fifth grade, and my mom was pressuring me to go do shows. While at a Halloween party, my cousin Owen Winters and I decided we were going to audition, and I haven’t looked back since.”

That leap into Reagan Middle School’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” fired Oliver off the blocks for 15 plays and musicals over the next seven years.

Unsurprisingly, one of Oliver’s favorite classes is choir, “because I feel like I learn something new every single time, and I also have a natural drive to learn in music.”

English also is high on the list because of her love for writing.

Oliver’s biggest role might have been this past year, when she knocked ‘em dead as local folk hero Pinky Petunia, part of Dixon’s Petunia Fest royalty.

“I loved it so much,” she said. “I can’t wait to crown the next Pinky.”

Answers from the young artist were slightly less definite when asked about favorite roles, plays and musicals. As with many creative personalities, different works stoke a feeling in different ways.

When asked about roles, she said: “I really liked being the narrator in ‘Puffs’ because it was a personality role, and I got to experiment within myself. But I’m playing Fastrada in ‘Pippin’ right now, and I’m super excited about that.”

“Seussical Jr.” is near the top of Oliver’s list of musicals she’s worked in.

“It’s just such a fun show with really great music,” she said.

A recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin, to see “Beetlejuice” had a big influence on Molly as well.

Someday, playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway show “Chicago” would be a great thrill for the vocalist.

Not one to be typecast, Oliver recalls an audition her freshman year for “Frozen, the Musical.”

When asked by the director whether she was singing for the role of Anna or Elsa, she said: “I asked if I could audition for the role of the Duke of Weselton (an evil old guy), and I got cast for that. It was just a random splurge that I didn’t want to be a princess that time.”

After high school, Oliver plans to go to Sauk Valley Community College before transferring to the University of Illinois for a teaching degree.

She wants to send a shoutout to choir teacher Erin Rogers and musical directors Ryan Hoffman and Ashley Ahlmquist, as well as her cousin Owen Winters, who’s been her role mate in many productions.

High School Life is a new Sauk Valley Media feature in which we take a closer look at the students involved in fine arts and extracurricular activities at Dixon High School.

Alex Paschal

Alex T. Paschal

Photojournalist/columnist for Sauk Valley Media