By Barbara Kay
Commencement will take place May 20 on the Great Lawn, with Chris Padro, senior theater and performance major, as commencement speaker.
“The [application] questions were like, ‘What mark have you left on Purchase?’ and I was like probably a dirty one,” she joked. “It was like, ‘How awesome of a student are you?’ and I was like, I’m really not but I think that’s why you should pick me because our school is full of not good students.”
Padro has taken Purchase by storm, starring in five on-campus productions. They include Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park;” Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves;” Andrea Thome’s “Purgatorio Wonderland;” MJ Kaufman’s “A Walrus in the Body of a Crocodile;” and Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians.” Padro will also be starring in her senior project, “Mac Beth,” “not to be confused with Shakespeare's “Macbeth,” she said. Padro is the lead, Mac Beth.
The show, which is scheduled to open May 12 and runs through May 15*, is an all-women and non-binary cast, with the plot being 13-year-old girls “basically doing ‘Macbeth’ in the woods,” as Padro described.
“I think 'Mac' in general is a really big accomplishment since you have to do the whole thing yourself, the school doesn’t give you a cent,” Padro said. “You have to cast it, find a director, and a dramaturg and you have to fundraise, and “Mac” is a really big show.”
“We have a rain machine that we have to figure out how to build ourselves, and a live, onstage beheading of me. I didn’t even know if we would be able to do it, but we did,” she continued.
Sara Meade, a senior theater and performance major, who plays Lady Mac Beth said that she “loves [Padro] dearly.”
“She is a really great senior project collaborator and has a really good head on her shoulders,” said Meade. “She is very positive.”
While working on “Mac Beth,” Padro applied to be the commencement speaker.
“I saw the application, and you know how you send things to your friends, and you’re like wouldn’t it be so funny if I did this?” she said. “I sent it to my friends and my family, and I literally said, ‘what if I do this for shits and giggles?’ and they were like do it!”
Being the commencement speaker was not only for a laugh but for her mother who has always dreamed of one of her children speaking at graduation.
“My mom has always had this, I don’t want to say fantasy because that has some negative connotations, but she’s always wanted one of her kids to speak at graduation,” Padro said.
“The summer before third grade we moved to Harrison from the Bronx and my mom always wanted her kids to be recognized by the school and she tried to join the PTA when I was in the fourth and fifth grade so she could be one of the moms who hands their kids the diploma on stage,” she said. “But they were so racist that they would bully my mother and basically made her feel so bad she quit the PTA and couldn’t give me my diploma.”
Padro’s mother, Ivette Padro, is proud of her daughter for coming out of her “self-made shell.”
“She always had a voice, fought for what is right, and even has spoken up for those who didn’t have the courage,” her mother said. “The way she owns the stage, the way she projects her voice and lights up the room, you would never think she considers herself ‘shy.’”
When Padro isn’t acting, she likes riding her skateboard, hanging with her friends and girlfriend, and “in-taking homosexual media" such as “The Wilds” on Amazon Prime and “Prom” (the musical not the movie).
“I usually am on my skateboard, I’m on a skateboarding ban right now, I’m on a hiatus, as it were. My director said ‘Chris, you can’t skateboard anymore until we close,’” Padro said. “I work at a pizza place, hang with my friends, and make YouTube videos.”
“I haven’t posted in so long. I did a commentary of the ‘Fear Street’ movies on Netflix, and it’s two parts and everyone keeps asking me for the third part, but I won’t post it until I am no longer a college student,” she continued. Padro’s YouTube channel can be found here.
Besides posting part three of her “Fear Street” commentary, her post-grad plans include, “praying” for the best.
“I’m working at a sleepaway camp with my girlfriend for most of the summer and then moving back in with my parents and auditioning for whatever I can and hoping that I book something,” she said.
Until then, her family is ecstatic to hear her speak at graduation.
“We can’t wait to hear what she has to say,” Ivette Padro said. “I’m sure she will bring laughter to everyone from her wit, bring a little emotion from her heart, and bring inspiration for Chris just being Chris. We wouldn’t have her any other way.”
*Due to the weekend weather forecast, the final dress rehearsal of Mac Beth will be open to the public on May 11 at the CMFT Amphitheatre. More updates can be found on their Instagram @somethingwickedatpurch .