Friday, May 28, 2010

A Theatrical History

“The only life worth living is one that you are really passionate about.” That pretty much sums up my feelings about why I do theatre. I have been involved with theatre for one way or another since elementary school, starting out with my fifth-grade production of Once Upon a Lily Pad. Clearly I was not meant to be an athlete – that was my brother. I, on the other hand, am the “artistic” child, and my passion is theatre.

During my middle-school years I was actively involved each summer with the Troy Players Youth Theatre through the City of Troy Parks & Recreation. After a few cheesy productions, my aunt introduced me to Deborah’s Stage Door Center for the Performing Arts, where my cousin took dance lessons. So in the summer of 2003, I auditioned for Bye Bye Birdie, my first large-scale production. What an eye-opener that production was. I fell in love with the entire process, from rehearsals to tech week and of course, being onstage in front of a large audience.

I then followed the director of Birdie, Stacy White Cleaveland, back to Deborah’s for her acting classes during the school year. This is where I became even more in love with the art of theatre. Through improvisation, scene study, character development, and the final workshop production, I learned many of the skills and techniques that form a good actor. I then went on to enroll in her musical theatre class as well, and continued each school year then on.

I returned each summer with Stacy to participate in her Summer Theatre Conservatory musical production, performing as Barnacles in Honk!, Prince Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress, The Cat in Seussical the Musical, The Lion in The Wiz and Mr. Bucket in Willy Wonka.

Along the way at Deborah’s I started taking voice lessons with Tara Sievers, who introduced me to her community theatre company, Project DayDream, based out of Birmingham. So in the summer of 2007 I auditioned for The Sound of Music and played Rolf that June. After The Sound of Music, I performed again with Project DayDream as Warbucks in Annie Jr., Combferre in Les Misérables, as well as Jafar in Aladdin Jr.

I also had the opportunity to experience the production side of things when I served as the stage manager for Madeline’s Christmas, another Project DayDream production. I was able to combine my love of theatre with my skills in organization. This is where I think I found my true calling, theatre production. Though I have always had fun performing onstage, being behind the scenes working with the creative team felt like something I could see myself pursuing as a career. So when auditions came around for Project DayDream’s next production of Beauty and the Beast, I knew exactly what part I wanted: on the production team.

For Beauty and the Beast, I served as Assistant Producer, my favorite theatrical role thus far. As the assistant producer, I was responsible for working with the producer and director to provide support and assistance in a number of areas: coordinating and managing committee volunteers, holding meetings, managing the tech crew, maintaining costumes and props, recruiting volunteers and working to raise funds and sponsorships from businesses throughout the community.

I also had the ability to express my creativity by designing all marketing materials, flyers, forms as well as the playbill for the show. Publication/media design has always been a hobby of mine, and to be able to combine this with my passions for theatre and organization made this past summer truly unforgettable.

So when it came time to prepare myself for the next step in my life—college—I began wondering where my future would take me and what opportunities I would be able to take advantage of. I’m lucky enough to have upperclassmen friends who were able to tell me all that MSU has to offer. Even just one week into the first semester, I was already being presented with numerous production opportunities, from assistant stage-managing Palmer Park to stage managing Freshman Showcase. I am thrilled that I was able to get such a head start on my theatrical career here at MSU, and I’m ready to make the most of the next three years.

As a theatre major I often wonder where my degree will take me. When I’m asked what my dream job would be, I would have to say a Disney Imagineer, specifically working for Disney Creative Entertainment, producing shows for Walt Disney World. With that in mind, I am excited about the freedom a BA in theatre can offer me, and the range of classes and electives I am able to take.


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