TRAIN Students: Sister Act

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TRAIN is Virginia’s Pre-Professional Actor Training Program for ages 12 to 18, led by Virginia Rep and Cadence Theatre Company.

 

We often say that every student who participates in our TRAIN program becomes part of our TRAIN family. Some of our TRAIN-ers, however, are lucky enough to already be family.

Elise and Molly Nugent and Emmy and Caroline Gravely are our two sets of powerhouse sisters in TRAIN this year. All four acknowledged that their natural competitive tendencies make them their sister’s most honest critic and source of motivation to challenge herself. But they also agreed that, as the person who knows them best, their sister is their favorite scene partner as well as their biggest supporter.

Our dynamic duos answered a few questions for us, giving some insight on how their journey began together as actors, their process while working together, and what it’s like to share the stage with your sister.

Nugent sisters

Who started acting/performing first?

Molly: Since I am the younger sister, Elise started performing first, but I wasn’t too far behind. My whole family started doing CharacterWorks theater and went on to Virginia Repertory Theatre.

Have you worked on any projects together?

Elise: Molly and I have performed in many musicals together. We’ve taken many classes and intensives together such as TRAIN. Within TRAIN, we were part of the TRAIN Express ensemble that performed at events last year.

Molly: We also improv around the house whenever we can!

What’s it like to work with your sister?

Molly: I always have so much fun working with Elise. Knowing each other so well makes connecting and building on each other’s work super easy. I love to have her around during the practices of shows and for moral support.

Elise: I really enjoy working with Molly because we think alike when making choices on stage. This makes it easy to build scenes and understand the direction of the scene. It is also really fun to have her with me in the rehearsal process. Molly is my personal director as an actress, and vice versa.

How do you two differ as actors? How are you alike?

Molly: I tend to lean towards more serious roles whereas Elise goes for the comedy, but we both love to try it all. I look up to Elise because of her ability to make the character her own and make it super believable. She can always get people to laugh. As I’m growing as an actress, I want to make sure I can do all types of roles, but we both can take a challenge.

Elise: Molly is a more talented actress than I am. She can and will do it all. Molly puts on very compelling serious performances that are so believable, it’s awesome. On the other hand, I tend to make choices that are out of the ordinary with the sole purpose of getting a laugh or two — of course, only when it is appropriate for the scene!

What’s your favorite area and why (film, voice, etc.)?

Elise: This is a challenging question, because I love to experience it all. Over the years, I’ve found that musical theater feels like home. I love the storytelling that it requires alongside the difficulty of perfecting singing, acting, and dancing at the same time.

Molly: I personally love the film side of things because of the intimacy and detailed work. The process of film really fascinates me. I love both film and theater, but film is definitely where my head is pointed.

What’s next for each of you?

Molly: On December 15, the movie Permanent will be released, and I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of it. The movie was my first big project, and I’m very excited for it to come out. As for right now, I am auditioning and waiting for my next big thing.

Elise: I am a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Henrico High School, and I aspire to be an orthodontist. But I don’t want to leave the arts behind. I hope to join club theaters in college and perform as a side gig when I graduate.

Gravely sisters

Who started acting/performing first?

While both of us began putting on small performances in the backyard for our family at a young age, Emmy was the first to act outside of the home environment. She enrolled in an acting class with SPARC at age 7.

Have you worked on any projects together?

Yes. Most of our projects have been school Drama Club productions, but we’ve also performed in various other summer programs and at Chickenstock, a local festival that was created to benefit the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund (FARF). We really enjoy working together because it gives us both an immediate burst of confidence to know we’re always there for each other.

What’s it like to work with your sister?

We deal with the occasional sibling rivalry, but for the most part, we both believe working together strengthens our performance and connection to each other, not only as actors but also as sisters. It’s nice to have one another for support, honest critiques, and spontaneous pre-show hugs.

How do you two differ as actors? How are you alike?

Emmy tends to have a very boisterous, energetic, and comedic style, while Caroline’s style is often more dramatic. We both approach new roles in a similar manner, but we always end up taking different paths to achieve our end result.

What’s your favorite area and why (film, voice, etc.)?

We both prefer live theater because of the intimacy and connection between the actors and the audience. The exhilaration of being on stage in front of a live audience is a feeling unlike any other, and it is what inspires us to continue doing what we love.

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