Mark Taylor II's sights are set on Broadway.
The 18-year-old Paducah teen sings, acts and dances -- maybe you've seen him in productions over the years at Market House Theatre, MainStage School of Performing Arts or Paducah Tilghman High School, where he is now a senior. He's portrayed an assortment of characters for local audiences ranging from Tarzan to Riff, the leader of the Jets in "West Side Story."
It all began for Taylor when he got bitten by the acting bug in elementary school.
"I want to go to Broadway after I get out of college," he said. "I'm going to be auditioning for shows or I could do a traveling show. That's fine too. I want to do that for a large portion of my life - wherever the wind takes me."
Taylor also envisions a role for himself in teaching others, if he decides to wind down and stop auditioning for shows. He'd like to go to an area that doesn't have many acting opportunities and start a business with a stage and acting classes, noting Paducah is "full of performing arts," whether it's MainStage, Market House Theatre or local high schools.
"I just love it because it's a way to express myself," he said. "Performing and singing and acting have gotten me out of tough places that I've been in - in my life, in the past. And I found a home in acting."
Taylor puts it simply. He likes the performing arts and it brings happiness to other people.
He saw the popular musical, "Dear Evan Hansen," and explained that whenever a certain moment happens, it connects everyone in the audience and on stage, to where you can feel a shared energy in the room.
"And I love that feeling," he added.
Taylor, whose guardians are Julia and Geordie Garatt of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Paducah Sun publishes profile stories on area high school seniors chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week consideration. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will pick one of these students for Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Taylor has earned a cumulative weighted GPA above 3.6 at Paducah Tilghman and stays busy with dance classes at Market House Theatre, his part-time job and extracurricular clubs and activities, such as the all-male a cappella group Prime Rib, National Honor Society, Beta Club and Drama Club. He also attended the Governor's School for the Arts program, which he described as an "amazing experience" that made him a better person, performer and actor.
After high school graduation, Taylor plans to earn a degree in musical theatre. He's looking at several schools, which are mostly out of state, and is particularly interested in Montclair State University in New Jersey and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
"Paducah is a very good place to try acting and performing, even if you're not sure you want to do it in life or even if you just want to do it sometimes like at Market House," he said.
"I know a lot of the people that work downtown and like lawyers and bankers - they go and they do theatre in their spare time because they love it and it's fun. If you want to try it, just try it. You can do it."
By: Kelly Farrell