Vermont audiences have seen teen actor Ben Van Buren on stage in Jim Lantz's "The Bus," and in Lyric Theatre productions of "Seussical the Musical" and "Fiddler on the Roof." Now they can watch him on YouTube, too.
Van Buren, a senior at Burlington High School, made a 2-and-a-half-minute musical film as part of his application to the Eugene Lang College of the New School in New York City. The admissions office lets applicants opt out of writing an essay by making a movie instead. "I felt it was a pretty easy way to show off my wackiness," Van Buren suggests.
After submitting the clip to the college, he posted it on the video-sharing site, where it's been viewed more than 200 times in the past week. In it, Van Buren dances through the BHS hallways, singing a version of the Jets' song from West Side Story, with lyrics he wrote himself.
"When you are me / you're a pretty swell kid / Go to Burlington High School / It's not quite Madrid. / When you are me / You know your home life is tops / A brother at home / Two moms and no pops."
Van Buren's parents are, in fact, Deborah Lashman and Jane Van Buren, the lesbian couple who sued the state of Vermont in 1993, in the landmark case that legalized second-parent adoption for same-sex couples.
"So ask me some questions," he sings after an energetic dance routine, "I'm eager to find some answers / Just give me a topic / I'll start a rousing banter / I love me some banter!"
The New School is actually one of several colleges on Van Buren's short list; he's also applying to Emerson College, the Boston Observatory, the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. He added the New School, a liberal-arts college, "to appease my moms," he says. He hopes to hear back from all of them by April.