Article by Danielle ‘Dani’ Brown
Cadence Theatre Intern
TRAIN auditions for 2017/18 are coming up on May 13!
It can be an amazing experience witnessing the depth of a child’s dream, and particularly, their determination and ambition to make that dream a reality. At the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn, seasoned theatre artists, and the parents that entrust their children’s dreams to them, get to witness this every Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday — with the occasional Saturday session. Cadence Theatre Company and Virginia Repertory Theatre’s TRAIN pre-professional program for ages 12 – 18 has created an exclusive, acting-intensive oasis for the young theatre artist-in-training, with an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of local directors and casting agents and perform in front of family and friends through TRAIN EXPRESS.
“There is nothing else like it for teens in the Richmond area,” said Nancy Coles, a TRAIN parent. “It’s like having a theater coach, film coach, dialect coach and voice coach all rolled into one!”
By providing a program that includes musical theatre, film and TV, college audition, Stanislavski-based actor’s studio, dialect, and vocal coaching, Cadence and Virginia Rep have designed an all-in-one, one-of-a-kind opportunity to nurture, develop, and enhance a young actor’s knowledge and love of their craft.
“Jordan has always loved theater but he gained confidence and stage presence since being in the TRAIN program. The program brought out talents he didn’t know he had or hadn’t tapped into yet,” said Angie Pearson, a TRAIN parent. “…He was also able to experience [the] behind the scenes of a production. He has learned the tools that will be with him [for] a lifetime in the performing arts field he plans to pursue.”
And, speaking of pursuits, our TRAIN students have not spared any time in applying all of their newfound skills. A good majority are using their talents to dominate the stages in their schools and communities, for now.
“[Trace] just wrapped up a show at JCC, and is currently working on his school musical,” said Nancy Coles.
Others are parlaying them into massive feats in their collegiate future.
“Next year, I am going to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for to get my BFA in Acting!” said Bobbie Edmunds, a high school TRAIN student.
There are even a good few of our “TRAIN-ers” either wrapping up performances or beginning rehearsals for professional gigs, like Violet (co-produced by Virginia Rep and Cadence Theatre Company), and Virginia Rep’s A Christmas Story and Beauty and the Beast, plus the upcoming feature film, Permanent, starring Patricia Arquette.
“TRAIN has opened doors to [Ellie’s] for a few acting jobs,” said Kent Duffy, a TRAIN parent. “In July 2016, she was invited to be a part of SPARC New Voices for the Theater with a role in one of the plays. She was also recommended to audition for the feature film Permanent and had a principal role in the film. Finally, she just was recommended to Quill Theater for an audition for Love’s Labours Lost in the role and Moth, and we found out today she got the role. She was recommended for all of these roles/experiences by her TRAIN instructors, therefore they were instrumental in helping her learn not just in the classroom, but on the stage as well.”
And some, like the ambitious artists they are, are pursuing a combination of all of the mentioned above.
“[Grace] was recently accepted to Walnut Hill School for the Arts, an independent school in Natick, Massachusetts, as an eleventh grade theater student and plans to attend next year,” revealed TRAIN parent Catherine O’Brion. “She’s acting in a short film project directed by a fellow student at the Henrico High School Center for the Arts (to be shown at Firehouse Theater as part of a festival of student films, I think). She was cast as Charlotte in SPARC’s summer production of Oliver. She performs in SPARC’s Spotlight.”
However, while practical application is important — and probably the reason many parents choose the program — the ultimate benefit students gain through TRAIN are skills most don’t understand the importance of until college, or after: focus, networking, and confidence.
“She is learning to be a professional,” said Kent Duffy.
While TRAIN is rigorous in its acting training, with an added emphasis on resume writing, theatre history, and headshot, reel, and vocal book development, it is also rigorous in its development of students’ work ethic and knowledge of their industry.
“She’s grown in every facet, with focused, individualized, professional feedback,” said Catherine O’Brion.
Whether they’re sharpening their on-camera presence with Erica Arvold, honing their acting craft with Laine Satterfield, finding their voice with Stephen Rudlin, polishing their dialects with Janet Rogers, or establishing their confidence on the musical theatre stage with Debra Clinton, every week for a year TRAIN students come in ready to work. With a total commitment to their dream, these young theatre artists are breaking their own ground in the Richmond theatre community, the industry as a whole, and their lives.