Broadway star Janet Dacal repeated these words throughout the morning Saturday as she watched Malverne High School students rehearse for their upcoming spring musical "In the Heights."
Dacal, who starred in the show's original off-Broadway and Broadway casts, spent more than four hours inside the Howard T. Herber Middle School auditorium on Dec. 12, working with the cast to perfect their performances.
Although the Drama Desk Award recipient was impressed with what she saw, she still challenged the students to bring even more energy and authenticity to their roles. Serving as guest director for the day, she coached them through various scenes and musical numbers from Act I, shared her own experiences performing the show and answered students' questions.
Then, Dacal capped off the exhausting yet inspiring rehearsal by giving students what they had been waiting for all morning, to hear her sing. The powerhouse vocalist performed "Breathe," a ballad sung by the character "Nina," who Dacal played when she returned to the Broadway show in 2010. After she sang the final note, the students gave her a standing ovation.
"I see myself in them," Dacal said of the students. "I was sitting in a very similar-like auditorium, aspiring and wanting to do this, so to be on the other side of it, it's full circle and it's very special."
Dacal also offered some words of advice for aspiring young performers hoping to make it in the competitive theatre industry.
"Work hard for what you want," she said. "We live in a very special circumstance where we can follow our dreams, we can actually make our dreams come true. I know it may sound cliche, but they can actually happen, so you got to put in the time, put in the work and put in your heart, and pursue what you want to pursue."
Click on the video report above to see highlights from Saturday's workshop with Dacal and the cast of Malverne High School's production of "In the Heights." Also, click through our photo gallery.