Shaun Parry will be presented with a BYU Alumni Achievement Award on Thursday, Oct. 8. Prior to the award reception, Parry will give a lecture entitled “Impossible Dreams I Didn’t Know Enough To Dream.” The lecture will be held in the Madsen Recital Hall at 11 a.m. Admission is free and the lecture is open to the public.
Parry graduated with a degree in Music Dance Theatre from BYU. He originally enrolled as a pre-med zoology major, but a zoology professor suggested Parry could better prepare for medical school by choosing a major that would make him more well-rounded.
This advice lead Parry to the performing arts.
He heard there was a new major incorporating music, dance and theatre into one, and he thought it could be a good fit for him. Although turned down at his audition, Parry was still able to take some of the major classes. His progress in those classes caught the attention of the faculty, who allowed him to audition again. On his second try, Parry was successfully admitted into the major.
As Parry tried to juggle his MDT commitments with his pre-med coursework, he quickly realized he could not keep up the 20+ credits per semester. After much prayer and fasting, Parry decided to pursue only the arts. He graduated with six other students in one of BYU’s first cohorts of MDT majors.
After graduation, Parry taught full-time seminary for a year and then worked on a cruise ship. Eventually, he moved to New York City, where he has gained prominence as a performing artist. He made his Broadway debut in Phantom of the Opera. He has also performed Off-Broadway and on national and international tours, including shows with the New York Theatre Ballet, National Ballroom Championships and the Metropolitan Opera and at venues such as Madison Square Garden and the Lincoln Center.
Parry is the founder and president of Promethean Spark International, a nonprofit organization that provides life coaching for impoverished youth through training in the performing arts. The organization has run successful programs for hundreds of children and youth in leprosy colonies, prisons, slums and orphanages in Asia, Africa and South America.
The annual Alumni Achievement Awards ceremony gives each college an opportunity to nominate an alumnus for their contribution to society. Parry was nominated by the College of Fine Arts and Communications.