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Magruder grad enjoys ‘Beautiful’ life on stage –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Paul Scanlan first acted on stage at Col. Zadok Magruder High School. He’s now a cast member of the national tour of “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,” playing at The National Theatre.

The Tony- and Grammy Award-winning musical features the inspiring true story of King’s journey from teenage songwriter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Scanlan grew up in the Olney area, attending Redland Middle School and Magruder High School, graduating in 2008.

He auditioned for “Beautiful” in August.

“I found out the next day that I had the part and within two weeks I was in Denver getting ready to open the show,” Scanlan said. “It was a very hectic couple of weeks.”

After Denver, the show went to Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Calif., Minneapolis, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

After the D.C. run, it will play several other cities before wrapping up in June.

Scanlan plays Bill Medley, one of the Righteous Brothers, and a character named Nick, who is loosely based on James Taylor. He also plays many unnamed roles in the ensemble.

“The show is great,” Scanlan said. “It is a remarkably well-crafted show, especially for what is often called a ‘jukebox musical.’ Usually the plots fit the songs, often as an excuse to get the songs in the musical. In ‘Beautiful,’ everything makes complete sense, almost like the scripts were written in advance of the songs, which are perfectly placed.”

Scanlan said performing on a national tour is considered large-scale for an actor. Performing in a new setting and a new theater, and having his friends and family be able to see him is icing on the cake.

While Scanlan hasn’t performed at the Olney Theatre, he worked there in high school as a house assistant, helping with concessions, trash, programs or whatever the house manager needed.

“I got to watch a ton of shows there, but still haven’t worked there as an actor,” he said.

His acting career began at Magruder during his sophomore year, where he did the morning announcements via a video broadcast.

“After reading the announcements, I started making stupid faces and became known as ‘that kid,’” he said.

At the urging of his teacher, he auditioned for an upcoming drama production. He performed in the fall play and spring musical in his junior and senior years.

When it came time for college, Scanlan said he wasn’t passionate about anything else, so decided to follow the theater route.

He attended Montgomery College and Catholic University, where he performed in many productions.

“It just snowballed,” Scanlan said. “I found out I was pretty good at it and just decided to follow this path.”

He started working professionally in 2011, mostly in D.C. Although he moved to New York in 2015, he still considers himself a D.C. actor.

Prior to earning accolades as a professional actor, his accomplishments included earning a Black Belt at Scott Teague’s Academy of Martial Arts in Olney, and becoming an Eagle Scout as a member of Boy Scout Troop 209, based in Silver Spring.


“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” runs through Dec. 30. For more information, go to http://thenationaldc.org.

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