Talent and Versatility Launch Annie Pasmann Into The Spotlight

Maja Abildso, Rambler Staff Writer

Being an actor requires being adaptable and willing to step outside one’s comfort zone to make bold choices and embrace a wide range of characters. Very few people know this better than senior and Sterling Scholar for Speech, Theatre, and Forensics Annie Pasmann.  

Her stage performances have required her to step into the roles of a plethora of characters from an adventure-seeking Lost Boy to a spunky and sympathetic stepsister, from a day-dreaming mermaid to a rather disgruntled juror. Pasmann has seen it all. One might even say she is a sponge, able to soak up any role given to her, per say, and hold nothing back in her performance. That made Pasmann a natural in this year’s musical. 

Pasmann did a brilliant job capturing the essence of SpongeBob SquarePants in Highland’s production of nothing other than SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical. And one did not need to be a fan of the original cartoon to thoroughly enjoy the performance.  

The story followed SpongeBob and his friends Sandy Cheeks and Patrick Star and the citizens of Bikini Bottom as they attempted to deal with a potential world ending disaster—a volcanic eruption that could destroy all they know and love. Along the way, they all discover that if they cannot work together, broken promises and shattered friendships will be what truly ends Bikini Bottom, not a volcano.  

This tale, full of suspense, important themes, and of course, a good dose of fun was brought to life in Highland’s auditorium through brilliant sets, vivid colors, and its excellent cast of talented performers. And those in the audience who were fans of the cartoon SpongeBob experienced the joy of seeing their favorite childhood characters brought to life by some of the greatest talent Highland has to offer. But very few hold the character of SpongeBob closer to their heart than Pasmann, SpongeBob SquarePants herself. 

“I’ve known about the SpongeBob Musical since it first hit Broadway in 2017,” Pasmann said. “I have a very distinct memory of walking to middle school listening to the album the day it came out. If I had told thirteen-year-old me that I was going to be doing [SpongeBob] she would have been starstruck.”   

And indeed, Pasmann’s love for the character showed through in her performance through her own twist on the character whilst staying true to the beloved cartoon and adding just the perfect dash of comedy and vulnerability that made it impossible for anyone in the audience not to fall in love with SpongeBob.   

“I think that [Pasmann] did an amazing job portraying the character in a way that was a believable translation from the cartoon to the stage,” Sara Ragey, Highland’s drama teacher and director of the production said. “My fear was that the character would be really annoying and not relatable, and I think she did a great job getting the audience to fall in love with SpongeBob and believe in SpongeBob.” 

Pasmann’s performance had everyone rooting for SpongeBob to the very end, and perhaps taught everyone to approach life with a bit more optimism and determination and to always look on the bright side. 

While SpongeBob’s unyielding optimism certainly gave Bikini Bottom—and everyone involved—the happy ending they deserved, this happiness was laced with an undertone of bittersweetness for Pasmann knowing it would be her last production on the stage in Highland High’s Auditorium.  

“I was just so ecstatic [opening night]. I was like ‘it’s my last show on the auditorium stage. I’m gonna give it my all’,” Pasmann said. “But I did have this thought that this is kind of my goodbye to theatre.” 

Pasmann does not plan on pursuing a career on the stage after high school, but for such a big fan of SpongeBob and the happy ending the musical provided, it could hardly have ended on a more beautiful note.  

“I’m happy my theatre career ended with SpongeBob,” Pasmann said. 

This love of theatre began years before Pasmann’s appearance on the Highland stage or even the release of SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical. In fact, it was way back when the Tony Award-Winning Broadway musical Wicked appeared on tour at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City back in 2014 when the spark lit for Pasmann.  

“I remember having an epiphany when I was like nine after ‘Defying Gravity’ [a song in the musical],” Pasmann said. “I was like ‘oh my gosh I wanna do that.’” 

And so Pasmann did the only logical next step: she joined theatre classes and did theatre camps, and even did a few community theatre productions, building up her experience, until middle school where she was given the chance to star in Hillside Middle School’s productions of Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid as Curly the Lost Boy and Ariel respectively.  

Pasmann’s first few years of high school were hampered with controversial musical choices, and of course, the pandemic, so it was not until her junior year that she first appeared on stage at Highland as one of the stepsisters in Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella which was a magical way to drag everyone out of the pandemic as well as an experience she enjoyed very much.  

“Cinderella was a great way to come back from COVID,” Pasmann said. “It’s a great story, very heartwarming. Everyone loves it.” 

Pasmann also put on another stunning performance in a production in Highland’s Little Theatre as Juror #10 in Twelve Angry Jurors that same year. 

Pasmann’s talent isn’t found solely on the stage though. She has also acquired an impressive repertoire of film roles outside of school. She has starred in the LDS-based movie Witnesses as well as several commercials and public service announcements. And her most recent gig was landing the lead role in an upcoming Sundance short film.  

“It’s my first lead in a film which I’m really excited about,” Pasmann said. 

As she moves into college and beyond, Pasmann plans to focus more on her film career as she likes the opportunities and pathways the film industry provides. This pursuit might not necessarily be in acting as Pasmann can see herself in any career within the industry.  

“I want to go to film school and pursue producing, editing, acting, directing, whatever comes first,” Pasmann said. 

Pasmann may soon be turning her back on the stage, but her passion, talent and driven work ethic have left a lasting impact on Highland’s Theatre Department that will not soon be forgotten by those who have worked alongside her for the past few years, and even by those who know her on a less familiar level.  

One of senior Eleanor Scoville’s–who played Sandy Cheeks alongside Pasmann in SpongeBob–favorite things about working with Pasmann is her ability to bring her ideas to life and truly step into the roles she is given both because of her experience and her talent. 

“She is able to bring things to life and bring her passion and her knowledge into the work that she does,” Scoville said. 

Pasmann’s ability to truly embrace the characters she is given is something not only the audience members have been able to see in her performances, but also something that Scoville really admires. 

“I love seeing how she experiments and explores her characters throughout the rehearsal process and then seeing how she just completely transforms into these characters,” Scoville said. “It’s just incredible to me how she can completely adapt and become a character.” 

Being able to analyze and truly become a character is something that is vital to success and an outstanding performance when comes to acting, and that is something that doesn’t always come easily, especially if one lacks the confidence to step into this new personality and make mistakes along the way. And even some of the greatest performers struggle with this.  

“I think the biggest growth I’ve seen [in Pasmann] is probably in confidence,” Ragey said. “I think that she has always had natural talent and she’s always worked super hard on any assignment or project or role she’s been given, but lately I’ve just seen her embrace her own talent and skills and use that confidence to make really bold choices on stage and really analyze the character.”  

Pasmann’s growth in confidence and ability to make bold choices when it comes to character combined with her welcoming air toward others is what has made her the face of Highland’s theatre department as well as president of the theatre council. So, it comes as no surprise that this hard-working performer and leader rwon the Sterling Scholar award for Speech, Theatre and Forensics with forensics referring to debate. 

For Ragey, Pasmann is a great representation of the theatre department at Highland. Her diligence, humility, talent, kindness and welcoming attitude are not only an excellent portrayal of her, but of everyone else in the department.  

And as she bids farewell to the big stage, Pasmann has some words of advice for anyone looking to follow in her footsteps both on stage and in front of the camera.  

“The bolder the choice you make…the stronger you will seem,” Pasmann said. “Quite frankly the weirder you are will get you the most attention. So, if you are ever auditioning, whether it’s film or theater, make bold choices. Embrace creativity, make bold choices, and don’t second guess yourself.”