Discovering a new passion: Jewell nursing graduate trades sequins for scrubs
As a kid in Stilwell, Kan., Renee Klapmeyer looked forward each year to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. The splashy song and dance numbers from Broadway musicals commanded her attention and set her imagination soaring.
“I wanted to be on Broadway for as long as I can remember,” she recalls. The Blue Valley High School graduate started early with tap, jazz and ballet classes, then came singing lessons, dance troupes, community theater and high school productions. After completing a B.F.A. in musical theater at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, Renee moved to New York City. Within two years she landed her first Broadway role in the revival of “42nd Street” alongside Tom Wopat.
Her resume grew to include “Anything Goes” with Patti LuPone and “Stairway to Paradise” with Kristen Chenowith. She played the female lead in the Broadway production of “The Producers,” a part she performed more than 300 times. That opportunity led to a role in the movie version of “The Producers” with Mathew Broderick. She even sang at a New York Mets game and finally got to be in front of the cameras at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Her final Broadway show was “Young Frankenstein” with “Will and Grace’s” Megan Mullaly in 2007.
“I was blessed to be able to work consistently on Broadway for about 10 years,” Renee says. “It was a tough career. We did eight shows a week and worked every holiday. Toward the end of my career, I started to lose some of the passion I had for performing. I wanted to make more of a difference.” Since she had considered a career in nursing before she began performing, it seemed a natural transition. She moved to Kansas City and enrolled in William Jewell’s BSN-AT program. “I feel so blessed to have been a part of this amazing program," says Renee, who has been hired as an ICU nurse at an area hospital. "I am excited to know I get to go to work and touch another person’s life. How amazing it is to be able to do that every day!”