Between the craziness of preparing to teach her musical theater voice classes at Baylor and getting ready for rehearsals for the September musical, ‘Dear Edwina,’ Lauren Weber is also training for her first triathlon and is frequently involved in community theater projects. But when production on ‘Dear Edwina’ wraps up, she’ll get a bit of a well-deserved break. “[I’m looking forward] to getting some good, quality focus time with family and the kids,” said Weber, also a mom of two young boys. She makes her busy schedule work thanks in part to a great partnership with her husband, John, and by trying to maintain a realistic view of what “balance” means for a working mom.
WACOAN: So, you are a musical theater professor at Baylor?
Weber: I’m a lecturer in theater, and I teach musical theater voice.
WACOAN: Do you teach seminar-style classes, or is it more a one-on-one type of thing?
Weber: It’s a little bit of both. So I teach some voice classes, and I also teach a Singing for the Actor class. I also teach private one-on-one voice lessons. And I have all the freshmen come in, and they take a class in combination with a partner lesson.
WACOAN: Partner lesson?
Weber: I teach two students and they observe the other person’s lesson, and they rotate every other week.
WACOAN: So since it’s musical theater, are you also involved in the productions that the students put on?
Weber: Sometimes, yeah. I’m music directing ‘Dear Edwina,’ which is a children’s musical that we have coming up in the middle of September, and I’ve music directed a lot of their straight plays as well.
WACOAN: What is ‘Dear Edwina’ about?
Weber: It’s theater for young audiences, so it’s college students acting in a one-hour musical written basically for families, for children. And ‘Dear Edwina’ is all about minding your manners — she’s answering an advice column for kids, so ‘Say No Thank You’ is a song. And it’s very fun.
WACOAN: What ages of children do you think would normally be able to enjoy the show?
Weber: We’re doing two productions at Waco Hall and actually busing in school students, so that’ll be elementary ages. But my 3-year-old is singing the songs nonstop at home, so I think it is really going to be a broad [audience]. And it’s shorter, so that’s nice to expose them to live theater that’s not three hours long.
WACOAN: How long have you been at Baylor?
Weber: I just graduated my first class of students that I had taught this past spring. So I guess I’m going into my fifth year, and it’s only my second year as a full-time lecturer. Before that I was adjunct and then fixed term.
WACOAN: So do you have the same students all four years who do their voice lessons with you?
Weber: The theater program at Baylor is exciting because there’s a small group of us that teach musical theater voice, which is both the vocal production and the acting side of that, and we share students pretty well. So I have all the freshmen, and then as they move through, sometimes I will keep them, but often I will share them with my colleagues, who are wonderful, which is nice. They’re getting many different points of view. But I claim them all as my own.
WACOAN: Are you from Waco originally?
Weber: I’m from Waco. We moved here when I was 2 and a half. My father’s a religion professor at Baylor. And I swore I would move away and never come back, and God liked to laugh at those plans. We have loved being back. Waco has grown a lot since we were here the first time, and it’s a great place to have a family.
WACOAN: What made you want to come back to Baylor and teach? Did you go to Baylor as an undergrad?
Weber: No, I went to the University of Oklahoma. I had to get away. I’m an Oklahoma Sooner.
I taught at a community college and did grad school in Minnesota, and it was too cold. So we looked into coming back to Texas, and Baylor was where I got the job, so that’s where we came.
My husband owns a small business in town — he went into business with his father and does business-to-business IT, so it’s been a great place for that as well.
WACOAN: What business does he own?
Weber: Weber Electronics.
WACOAN: So being from Waco, you got to experience what it was like a while ago and what it’s like now. What are some of the differences that you’ve noticed?
Weber: I think there is a lot more to do in Waco and a lot more eating places. I love the new things that have come in. We try to frequent the local places, like Milo [All Day] and Moroso [Wood Fired Pizzeria].
WACOAN: What are some other things that you like to do? If you and your husband were going to go on a date night in Waco, what would you do?
Weber: We love to eat. And we end up doing a lot of things together in the theater, so we go to the Waco Civic [Theatre] shows, we go to the Jubilee [Theatre] shows, the Baylor shows, obviously. That’s kind of our world.
WACOAN: Is he involved in theater at all too, aside from going to the shows with you?
Weber: Yeah, so because he’s an IT guy he can do pretty much anything technical. So for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ recently he did all the blue-screening for the projections and also was a sound designer, mixing and things like that.
WACOAN: I understand you’re also involved in the Waco Civic Theatre productions and the Jubilee productions, is that right?
Weber: Yeah. So I want Waco to have good arts! I think for a long time people just left Waco because Dallas and Austin are so close, and I just want to see that quality continue to rise. So I am involved when I can be with the Jubilee and Waco Civic [productions].
WACOAN: And is that helping with the productions, or directing, overseeing or —
Weber: I have directed at both theaters; I’ve been in shows at both theaters. I’m a member of the advisory board of the Jubilee and the play selection committee at the Waco Civic Theatre.
WACOAN: What do you enjoy more? Do you enjoy being in the productions, or do you enjoy being on the outside and helping shape the way they turn out?
Weber: My brain thinks like a director. So I love performing, I love singing, but really it’s not my passion. My passion is to see other people succeed and be the best they can be and to see a whole production come together. I also love collaboration, so as a music director seeing how I can help the music tell the story is really what I’m all about.
WACOAN: What drew you to theater and music?
Weber: I’ve been singing my whole life. My parents did a good job of telling me to find a thing that I loved and find a way to make money doing that. That’s definitely something I think that [my husband] John and I have both done. It’s my passion. I think teaching is my calling, and voice is the thing that I have the most expertise in, so it’s a good combination.
WACOAN: And you’re also the music director at your church?
Weber: I lead the 9 a.m. family service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and we love it there. That’s been a fun endeavor.
WACOAN: Is that the church you grew up in?
Weber: No, I grew up Baptist and moved away. I became Episcopal in my early 20s, and my husband was Catholic. So it’s been a good place for us to land and raise our children.
WACOAN: And you’re a member of the It’s On Us work team? Can you tell me about that?
Weber: Sure. It’s On Us is a program that Baylor has for the incoming freshmen, and I help direct the skits or the scenes for that. It is working to stop interpersonal violence on campus. I was also recently Green Dot certified and trained, and hopefully we’ll roll that out soon. That’s another program that’s really important to me — that we figure out a way to keep all people safe and healthy. That’s part of my volunteer [work] here on campus.
WACOAN: Is Green Dot a national program?
Weber: It is.
WACOAN: So what does certification for that involve?
Weber: We did a three-day training last summer, and Baylor is just about to roll it out. It’s a way of looking at campus and seeing how we can do good both actively and passively to make the campus better and reduce interpersonal violence.
WACOAN: And is It’s On Us specifically a Baylor program?
Weber: Yeah, I think so. The part I’m a part of is a back-to-school program for all the incoming freshmen. So they all come to the Ferrell Center, and it has survivor stories as well as information and ways people can get help.
And the theater students are fantastic. They put on these scenes that kind of give students a way to see some of these things that maybe they don’t think of and tools — so how to delegate or direct or distract.
WACOAN: Delegate, direct and — ?
Weber: So if they come across a situation where they see something they think might not be healthy for all parties involved, delegating would be finding someone else to come in: calling the police or a friend to step in. Distracting would be just causing a distraction to break up the situation, and then direct would be if they feel comfortable interacting with the situation themselves. Just giving [them] tools and ways to make our campus and Waco safer.
WACOAN: That’s really interesting. Those are definitely very important issues to address. Can we talk a little more about your family? How did you meet your husband, John?
Weber: I have known John my whole life. We started dating when I was in grad school. He is a great partner in life. He’s a Baylor grad, and he loves Waco. He loves Waco more than anyone could possibly love Waco. You asked what we’d do on a date — he could list all the things because he has a list of the 100 best things to do in Waco. He’s really the one who does all that, planning exciting things.
WACOAN: That’s awesome! And you have children?
Weber: Yes. Camp is 4 and a half, and Jack just turned 3. They are awesome.
WACOAN: Camp — that’s a unique name. Where did you get the idea for that name?
Weber: It’s my mom’s maiden name.
WACOAN: That must be very energetic, a house full of boys.
Weber: Yeah. John and I are both extroverts and Camp is as well. Jack is an introvert, so [his] coming into the Weber house has been good for us to slow down and realize that everyone doesn’t run at the same pace.
WACOAN: What are they like? What are some things they like to do?
Weber: They are the best. Camp is enthusiastic about life and always looking for what’s next. He’s super verbal, sweet-spirited and loves people and hugs. Jack is tough and strong but also very empathetic and loves to be outdoors playing any sport. They are both strong-willed, opinionated kids. We’re still discovering what they’re going to be into, so we try to just bring them along with a lot of the things we do. So Camp was in his first show with ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
WACOAN: Oh, how fun!
Weber: He loved it.
WACOAN: Since this article is called ‘Keeping Balance,’ I always like to ask what balance means to you, or what do you do to achieve balance in your life?
Weber: I recently heard a YouTube video that said screw balance. It says balance is a dirty word, and I kind of tend to agree. Motherhood has been a constant journey of realizing that you can’t have it all, at least not all at the same time. So I’m working on just being present in the moment. I think often we try to work like we don’t have kids and have kids like we don’t work, and that just isn’t a reality. I’m really passionate about just doing the best you can with what you’ve got.
WACOAN: What do you do to relax or have ‘me time’?
Weber: I’m currently training for a sprint triathlon. I ran the Bearathon in April. And those are good for me. They kind of double as contemplative practices as well — it just gives my mind time to not be connected to everything else and to focus and to pray.
WACOAN: So you’re a runner.
Weber: A ‘slogger’ — a slow jogger.
WACOAN: But you ran a marathon, though!
Weber: A half.
WACOAN: Still, that’s no small feat. I’m impressed by that.
Weber: Well, it’s good for me. I’m excited to see how this triathlon goes. That’s all new.
WACOAN: How long is the run in that one?
Weber: It’s just a 5K. Everything is a little shorter for this first one, and we’ll see how that goes.
WACOAN: So what do you do to train for that? Do you have a training schedule that kind of builds you up to be able to do all of that?
Weber: Yep. Just following the schedule, getting outside — it’s been nice to switch up from just running to adding the cycling and swimming in as well.
WACOAN: That’s exciting. So obviously fall classes will be starting pretty soon. Can you take me through what a day looks like for you? Or maybe a week, because I imagine your classes are different each day. What does a typical day or week look like for you?
Weber: It really varies if I’m in a show production or not. Jack is at day care at Turtle Creek Kids, and it is fantastic. She’s a certified in-home [day care provider], and we love her. It’s been great; he’s really happy. They play outside all the time, and he’s an athletic little kid. And Camp is at Montessori Preparatory School, and we love it there too. He’s learning a lot.
So I get the kids ready and dressed and then usually do my workout, and John gets them to school. Then we work, and I try to get done at 3 [p.m.] to pick the boys up most days, usually four of the five days or three of the five days, so that I can spend time with them between 3 and 6:30 [p.m.] when I go back to rehearsal. So I get some good, solid, really quality time with them. And then often when I’m in production John does bedtime, and I come home later that night. When production’s out, then we get to do a little less crazy of a schedule.
WACOAN: So you’re not in production every semester, then? Does that kind of rotate through the department as well?
Weber: I have been in production pretty much nonstop for the last couple of years, but after ‘Dear Edwina,’ I don’t have a production lined up. So I’m really looking forward to taking some time and space to reflect and regroup.
WACOAN: Do you have anything else that you would like to say about your family or any of the things that you’re involved in?
Weber: Yeah. I think for us it’s a lot about — we have three sets of grandparents in town, which is really helpful, and we have really good chosen family in the friends we’ve made in our community. And John and I really partner in everything, so it makes it work.
WACOAN: It’s a real team effort.
Weber: Yeah, for sure. And people ask me a lot, ‘You’re so busy, how do you do it?’ And the answer is, ‘Sometimes better than others.’ It just depends on the day and the week and continuing to pray and refocus. I think that God gives us a calling in life, and we are all called to different paces and different things. I just try to be really present with my kids, and that quality [time] is more important to me than just quantity.