Broadway is to actors what Van Gogh is to artists – classic and adored.
On April 4, 16 young actors from the Aiken Community Playhouse traveled to New York to explore this theatrical staple in several different ways.
These Youth Wing members, “accompanied by four Youth Wing directors, recently participated in the sold-out April session of the Broadway Student Summit, a three-day acting, dance and vocal workshop in New York City, where students worked with some of Broadway’s finest music directors, choreographers, vocal coaches and celebrities to strengthen their skills and learn new audition and performance techniques,” said Jim Anderson, Youth Wing executive director.
The summit started on April 5. Some skills that the workshops touched on included acting, singing, dancing, stage combat and improv.
Youth Wing member John Gillespie really benefitted from the character building exercises.
From these sessions, he said he learned how to key into his characters more and “make them the best they can be.”
Some of the professionals they interacted with were veteran director Janis Powell and Juilliard School faculty member Kate Wilson. Powell taught a private workshop on the acting technique known as the Meisner technique, while Wilson held an exclusive vocal workshop, according to Anderson.
To add to the professional interaction, the Youth Wing company got to “audition” for a current casting director. The director “gave feedback and suggestions, helping the students focus on improving their presentation skills as well as discover their strengths and weaknesses,” Anderson said.
Gillespie, who attended the summit for the first time, said that seeing the professionals go about their daily lives was an interesting thing to observe.
“It was a different experience,” he said.
The company finally witnessed Broadway professionals in their public form, when they saw two shows “Newsies” and “Kinky Boots.” After the “Newsies,” the company was able to sit and ask the cast members questions. “Kinky Boots” had just opened that weekend.
The summit had brought students from all over the nation.
The company returned to Aiken on April 7, with everyone bringing back something.
Anderson, fellow Youth Wing directors Nancy Hansen and Jennifer Gibbons and coach and choreographer Adam Shults also attended. To help the Youth Wing, “pages of acting exercises and insight that enrich the Youth Wing experience for all our members, from beginner to advanced” were brought back.
Money to go on the trip was raised from the Broadway Bound Gala that was held March 1-3. A gala opened the three-day performance, where the company performed excerpts from many shows like “Mamma Mia!;” “Dreamgirls;” “A Chorus Line” and “West Side Story.” Fourteen local musicians accompanied them, while Lonnie Quinn, New York City CBS’ weatherman and a colleague of Anderson, hosted.
“The community support of our young people is phenomenal,” said Mike Gibbons, ACP president. “Each year, the company members and their adults mentors put on a top-notch production, and the Aiken community turns out to show their support for these hard-working and talented kids.”
Anderson created the Youth Wing Immersion program three years ago, with the support of the ACP Board of Directors. The program is open to fourth to 12th graders and does have an audition process. The next audition will be Aug. 24-25.
The next Youth Wing performance will be “Garden Theater” in June.
For more information, call 803-648-1438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted photo The group gathered at Central Park. Pictured, in back, are John Gillespie, Katte Noel, Aaron Volpe, Kylie Burkes, Logan Hansen and Ryan Avent. Pictured, in front, are Anne Ateca, Sarah Cushman, Kenneth McCormack, Madison Anderson, director Jim Anderson, Brittany Winans, Abbie Marbert, director Nancy Hansen, Jessica Kirschner, Jake Hamrick, Julie Pretorius, Minna Heaton and choreographer and coach Adam Shults.×
Submitted photo The Youth Wing went and saw “Newsies” on Broadway during its trip. Pictured, in back, are Kenneth McCormack, Madison Anderson, Julie Pretorius, Katte Noel, Abbie Marbert, Jake Hamrick, Tim McFall, “Newsies” cast member JP Ferreri, John Gillespie, Aaron Volpe, Kylie Burkes and Ryan Avent. Pictured, in front, are Brittany Winans, Minna Heaton, Sarah Cushman, Anne Ateca and Jessica Kirschner.×