NWSA Alumnae Headline Award-Winning Musicals on National Tours

Anette Barrios-Torres as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

It’s moments before the curtain rises, when the lead actress is preparing final touches before taking the stage.  At her makeup table framed with bright lightbulbs, there’s a phone and a videocall taking place, to what might be confused as a mirror image.  Another lead actress in another show and in another city is going through the same pre-show ritual and they are talking together and sharing those final moments before the stage lights illuminate their incredible talents.

It wasn’t long ago that these New World School of the Arts theatre alumnae were gracing the NWSA Louise Gerrits theater as young actors-in-training. As “triple-threats” these young actresses, skilled singers, actors, and dancers bring well-known characters to life through their spirited command of the stage.  Anette Barrios-Torres and Katerina McCrimmon have much in common. They are both Cuban-American, both were born and raised in Miami, Florida, of parents who didn’t particularly pursue careers in the arts, and both graduated – just three years apart, from the New World School of the Arts high school musical theatre program. Now, Anette and Katerina are touring the nation as leading ladies in world-renowned, Award-winning musicals while calling the attention of theatre enthusiasts and arts critics everywhere they perform, and making national headlines for their boundless talents.

“It’s easy to see how Annette and Katerina were destined to be the performers they are today.  We are thankful to have had a front row seat to their work here at New World School of the Arts and we knew then, that they were special talents.  I’m so thrilled the world is getting to know them in these feature roles. These are incredibly talented young women who will continue to change the theatre landscape for many years to come. If you haven’t seen them perform yet, keep an eye out for your chance to witness this new generation of artists,” said Dr. Jeffrey Hodgson, Provost and CEO of New World School of the Arts.

As leading lady on the Broadway national tour of Bartlett Sher’s Lincoln Center Theatre production of My Fair Lady, NWSA theater alumna, Anette Barrios-Torres (NWSA theater, 2019) embodies Eliza Doolittle, the fictional character who becomes a refined socialite despite her earlier days as a flower girl. Sharing the role that links all the way back to award-winning actress Julie Andrews, who originated the musical version of Doolittle on stage in 1954, and British screen legend Audrey Hepburn, who brilliantly interpreted Doolittle a decade later, Anette is already leaving her mark as a fascinating singer and musical theatre actress. “Her portrayal was captivating, steadily gaining momentum as she grappled with Professor Higgins’ demanding lessons, specially making “Show Me” a show stopping moment,” said Gladys Viscarra, Madison Vibra.
In a recent interview with Analisa Swerczek of Broadway World, Anette acknowledged the importance of playing this inspiring role, citing Audrey Hepburn as one of her “heroes” during her younger years. “Thinking of it as a show and a character that was my hero growing up and that guided me through a lot of ups and downs as a kid… as somebody who is watching it now, it’s taken on this very new meaning as I get to step into her little boots every night. It’s been healing in its own way.”
In the same interview, Anette highlighted the importance of NWSA, “My very first audition was actually Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” from My Fair Lady. That was in middle school, and then I ended up going to New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida. I learned so much there. I was in an incredible program for four years and learned from some incredible people. They really just fostered this determination and love for what we do. I was so grateful to have had that so early on. I feel like it gave me a really strong springboard to go to college and work professionally.”

“Not only did Anette walk into the classroom with a lot of talent, she also came with an open and kind personality. These attributes, along with her great sense of humor made my time with her fun while we were actually working.” 

Jeff Hess, Music Director, NWSA
Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice, and Stephen Mark Lukash

Funny Girl, for the first time on national tour, is headlined by NWSA alumna Katerina McCrimmon (NWSA theater, 2016) as she brings to life Fanny Brice, the character inspired by turn of the century comedian Fania Borach. On tour to over 30 cities in the United States, Funny Girl launched from Providence, Rhode Island’s Providence Performing Arts Center September 9, 2023, and made its way to Katerina’s hometown neighboring city – Ft. Lauderdale, just two months later. Paying a special visit to New World School of the Arts before opening night at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Katerina presented a masterclass to her younger theater peers enthusiastically noting, “I get goosebumps walking through these halls again, remembering all the things that I learned here. This school is unlike any other and I’m really grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to study here. It’s such a gift.”

“I remember how funny, humble and nonchalant Katerina was in the classroom. Then, she’d open her mouth and sing and we were all blown away! Seeing the quick success that she has achieved is no surprise to me. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you aren’t fun to work with!”

Jeff Hess

In an interview excerpt published in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, by Rod Stafford Hagwood, Katerina recalled that it was during her teenage years that she was first introduced to the character of Fanny Brice while on vacation. “My family, like they don’t come from a theatrical or artistic background. And she said, ‘Tonight we’re watching the movie because you’re gonna play Fanny Brice one day,’ ”. Years later, Katerina’s name would make national headlines as the new leading lady and star of the national touring hit Broadway musical. “Remember the name, because this talented young lady is not only an outstanding actress, but she can also sing like a star, bringing the PPAC audience to their feet in her rendition of “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” – Don Fowler, Warwick Beacon. “McCrimmon hits the high notes as good or better than Streisand did, sounding a bit like her, but not trying to copy her.”

Inspired by the life and career of a comedian and Broadway star, Funny Girl opened on Broadway in 1964 with acclaimed singer, actress, and songwriter Barbra Streisand as the protagonist – a leading role that earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award. However; “Rather than imitating Barbra, she makes the role her own with terrific physicality. Out of her huge mouth comes that glorious voice and she is fully committed to this character you can’t help but love, with her exaggerated facial gestures and brilliant physical comedy,” wrote Marin Heinritz in Revue Weekly about Katerina.

During her interview with Stafford Hagwood, Katerina noted the important place NWSA holds in her heart, “I went to New World School of the Arts, and I owe so much of where I am today to that school. It was like a bubble of love and joy and safety. I can’t speak highly enough about New World, and I hope that it’s getting the funding that it needs and the backing and support that it deserves because so many brilliant artists come out of that school, and I’m just so honored that I can call that my alma mater.”

Linked by shared experiences, which includes their time at New World School of the Arts, a love for the amazing characters they had the opportunity to embody, their respect for theatre and passion for the arts, and the undeniable pull to share their talents with the world, Annette and Katerina wrap up their video call and prepare to take the stage as audiences across the country are also and unknowingly linked by a unique and special friendship.

Anette Barrios-Torres graduated from New World School of the Arts’ high school theater division in the spring of 2019. She earned her BM in Music Theater from Oklahoma City University and studied Spanish language/literature. While teaching and directing at the acclaimed Miami Children’s Theater she discovered her love for teaching and now coaches acting and voice privately. In 2021, Anette made her professional debut playing Jan in Grease with Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. While at OCU, she performed in Sunday in the Park with George, Children of Eden, The House of Bernarda Alba, In the Heights and Dog Sees God. Since then, she has been seen on the Civic Center Music Hall stage in The Sound of Music, Carousel, and singing alongside Kelli O’Hara in her concert with the OKC Philharmonic. Anette is now leading the Broadway national tour of My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle which runs through 2024.

Katerina McCrimmon was a YoungArts Finalist and Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She graduated from New World School of the Arts’ high school theater division in the spring of 2016. Her NWSA performance credits include Fiddler on the Roof, Children of Eden, and John & Jen. Regional credits include In the Heights, Gathering Blue, and Hair. Katerina is also known for The Rose Tattoo, Likable Egoists, Where the Pieces of My Life Belong, and The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal. She headlines Funny Girl in the musical’s first national tour through 2024.

Other New World School of the Arts alumni making national headlines include Tarell Alvin McCraney (NWSA theatre, 1999), Hernan Bas (NWSA visual arts, 1996), Alex Lacamoire (NWSA music, 1992), Gaby Diaz (NWSA dance, 2014), Robert Battle (NWSA dance, 1990), Russell Thomas (NWSA music, 1998), Jen Stark (NWSA visual arts, 2001), Lulu Wang (NWSA music, 2001), Chabely Ponce (NWSA theatre, 2023), Gabriell Salgado (NWSA theatre, 2019), Lindsey Corey (NWSA theatre, 2008), Lloyd Knight (NWSA dance, 2005), and so many more!

The New World School of the Arts theater program is dedicated to the professional training of talented and committed students interested in pursuing performing careers on stage, screen, and in other media, offering students an opportunity to work in a hands-on intensive, physically demanding, artistically challenging and exciting environment. Guided by faculty who are professional actors, directors, playwrights and designers, the curriculum is a progressive journey toward the ownership of a personal technique and a comprehensive methodology of working. The faculty guides the student through the discovery and exploration of self, the learning of diverse techniques used in our craft, intensive rehearsal process, and finally the application of this knowledge into dramatic forms and styles in productions. The NWSA college BFA theater program culminates with in-person senior showcases in Miami and New York City, and a virtual showcase for regional markets. Information about the NWSA theater program at 305-237-3260.
A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theatre and Art & Design. NWSA’s rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more three decades. Information about New World School of the Arts at 305-237-3135 or nwsa.mdc.edu.