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ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards winner returns to ASU as a student

Sam Primack's headshot.

Sam Primack will study musical theater at ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

May 04, 2021

Sam Primack, the 2017 ASU Gammage Rising Star Award recipient and winner of Best Lead Male at the 2017 ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards, is returning to Arizona State University as a student in the upcoming fall semester.

Primack, originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, applied to the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts during the coronavirus pandemic and will major in musical theater.

Though he had gone through the college application process directly after high school, Primack decided to put his academics on pause to pursue his dream of acting on Broadway. He joined “Dear Evan Hansen” in April 2019 as an understudy and got to play three different characters, including the lead, in the span of three months.

Then, the pandemic hit, and Broadway was shuttered indefinitely.

"When we realized the tours and Broadway were not going to open for at least another semester, we didn’t know at the time it was going to be even more another year, I decided to go to school, and with the help of a couple of professors at the school I ended up enrolling,” Primack said.

The Chaparral High School alumnus said that his second time going through the college application process was a positive experience, even with adjustments made due to the ongoing pandemic.

“This time around, it was actually a really welcoming process,” Primack said. “Everyone was really wonderful and I felt like, even though all of the auditions were online … all of the faculty seemed to be really responsive and I got a lot of great feedback from those videos. You don’t (usually) get feedback, so I think the extra time with COVID and everyone at home helped me get some great feedback.”

Though his path to ASU may be untraditional, Primack believes his time away from school helped prepare him to be an even better student now that he is ready to return.

“Something that I learned is that the work that you do in the classroom or on stage, that has to continue at home,” Primack said. “So, I think the biggest lesson that I learned on tour and on Broadway … was just a level of preparation and focus and a drive that I don’t think that I would have if I didn’t have that year.”

Looking to the fall semester, Primack said he is most excited to “work with new professors and ... continue to grow and learn with (his peers).”

“I’ve had so many friends go through the program and go through the process and they have really loved their experience,” Primack said. “Something that I noticed very quickly was that this program, as opposed to many other programs around the country, the students there really love it, and I really love the faculty and I really love the teachers and that really drew me in.”

For Primack, coming back to ASU is a full-circle ending, as the university has watched him grow as an actor since his high school years.

“ASU and Gammage and the whole High School Musical Theatre Awards — I would not have my job, I would not have really anything without the people there and the people that chose me, so I owe a lot to ASU,” Primack said. “They kind of had my back when I needed something to kind of creatively stimulate myself and so, ASU has always just been a really welcoming and wonderful place.”

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