Cromer honored as Outstanding Senior at OU

By Savanna Gregg

Burnet Bulletin

A cartoon chef said it best: “You must be imaginative, strong-hearted — you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. The only limit is your soul.”

These are words 2014 Burnet High School graduate Thomas Cromer lives by every day of his life.

On Friday, Nov. 10, Thomas Cromer received high honors at the University of Oklahoma. Cromer was recognized by OU President David Boren as Outstanding Senior, selected out of all four schools in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts.

He was also introduced along with the other Outstanding Seniors of the University of Oklahoma during the OU vs. TCU game the next day.

“Achieving this award is an honor at OU, and it's incredible to have been recognized in front of 88,000 people at the football game,” Cromer said. “Many seniors in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts applied for this award and were all as much qualified as I was.”

During the past four years, Cromer has made the most of his time in the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre and the effort he puts into his work is evident.

“Thomas is thorough, diplomatic, and committed to the community,” Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre Interim Director Harold Mortimer said. “He was elected by classmates to be on the Directors Advisory Council, he is on the Dean's Advisory Council, updates our social media presence, and is in charge of a student-run cabaret at a local restaurant here.”

Cromer's instructors have sang his praises, emphasizing the significance of this honor.

“Thomas went up against the best and brightest of each school — the schools of dance, drama, music, and musical theatre,” Mortimer said. “He fit all the criteria. What he's done with the community, the university at the program level, and his performing resume were all factors that were taken into context.”

Cromer, very involved in extra-curricular activities throughout school, has been chasing this dream since middle school. Cromer played the alto saxophone in the band, played football and basketball, and was involved in theatre classes. Cromer found that his heart, though, belonged in the band hall and on stage.

“My love for band and theatre collided,” Cromer said. “I became interested in the collaboration of music and drama. I took classes at Studio 29 Dance Centre after loving the movement involved in musical theatre. So I figured what better way to combine my love than to pursue a career that encompasses singing, acting, and dancing?”

Previously limited in musical theatre exposure during his high school career in a small town, Cromer has been involved in multiple productions, working as an assistant director and assistant music director for two separate productions in Oklahoma and starring in productions in New York. Cromer starred as Lewis in “Pippin” and Harry the Horse in “Guys and Dolls,” which he performed in Woodstock, New York. He also originated the role of Woody in “When You Wish,” Disney's new musical, which premiered in Oklahoma City.

“I got to pop out of a toy box to a cymbal crash and gasps of little children who flooded the audience,” Cromer said. “Seeing their bright faces while singing “You've Got a Friend In Me” is one of the most special moments of my life.”

Cromer's dedication and passion is progressively moving him up to a peer-level with the directors. He has played a big role in improving the school's social media presence and bringing different members of the community closer together.

“He has been working at the college level to get students from various schools more involved, to give them a better sense of community,” Mortimer said. “Because he's such a hard worker, when he makes a suggestion we all listen up. He is going to do something great. Whether it's musical theatre or something else, Thomas is going to change the world.”

Cromer plans to utilize the experience he has gained throughout his time at OU to create a career focused on the musical theatre field.

“The University of Oklahoma has prepared me with the necessary tools to excel as a musical theatre performer once I graduate, and I cannot wait to move to New York City and start auditioning for Broadway, cruise ships, and national tours,” Cromer said. “I always want to be involved with musical theatre no matter what I am doing.”

Cromer expressed deep appreciation to those who support his dream and inspire him to keep working for what he believes.

“I am constantly inspired by the many who strive for their dreams no matter what anyone tells them,” Cromer said. “My family and friends have been supportive throughout my journey, but I wouldn't be where I am without my mother. She taught me how to strive for excellence through adversity and how to love those around me who possess different opinions. She taught me what it is like to live life to the fullest no matter what others thought about me. She has pushed me to my limits because she saw my potential and knows I am limitless.”

Strong family ties have guided Cromer through all the obstacles he knew he would face on the way to living his dream. He was fortunate to have those family members in the audience looking on as he received his well-deserved award.

“The experience of watching Thomas receive the Outstanding Senior Award by the top educators and the President of The University of Oklahoma was breathtaking,”said Jenifer Drozd, Cromer's mother. “We are extremely proud of his hard work, dedication, and passion for his studies, career, and life itself. We love him more than words can express and are truly blessed.”

The small town of Burnet is the hometown of many talented people. When given the opportunity to go out in the world and gain experience that helps this talent bloom into success, Cromer took it and ran with it.

“Attending the University of Oklahoma's Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre seemed impossible coming from small town Burnet, Texas,” Cromer said. “The musical theatre school only accepts 12 of 1,200 applicants who audition from all over the nation. I did not let those numbers scare me. I presented to them the best possible version of myself and they saw the drive and passion within me.”

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