NYC theater star returns to Winnetonka High to inspire teens, choreograph show

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — William Bailey is quite a bit more than just the guest choreographer for Winnetonka High School’s production of ‘Chicago.”

“I walk through these halls now a lot more confident than I did when I went here,” Bailey said.

Bailey graduated from Winnetonka in 2007 and has gone on to smashing success in the New York theater scene.

As a dancer, actor and choreographer, Bailey’s toured with national productions and has an impressive list of TV and film credits.

But this rising Broadway star struggled for direction and self-esteem when he was a student at Winnetonka not so long ago.

William Bailey

“I was almost 200 pounds with an afro and glasses and gay and black,” Bailey said.

So you might think someone like that would never return to his old high school, especially after taking New York by storm — but you’d be wrong.

Bailey said high school theater and dance saved him, so he felt compelled to show the next generation that anything is possible.

And the theater students at Winnetonka have noticed.

“It’s like getting a little taste of New York right here in Kansas City on the stage,” said Lana Moerer, a senior at Winnetonka.

“He connects with us since he’s been here. He understands the stage, and he has his flashback moments,” said Julia Madison, another senior.

Bailey knows better than most that it can be hard to figure out who you are.

So while, on the one hand, Bailey gave these students the benefit of Broadway-level instruction, on the other hand, he’s also giving them a road map for everything that’s possible — in high school and beyond.

“To be not a regular teacher, to sweep in and inspire them to be better than they were the day before, something I vowed I would do after I graduated,” Bailey said.

Winnetonka’s production of “Chicago” runs from Nov. 15-17.