Meet Lisa McCusker Sherer

10553862_10152224375286806_5169693584578451651_oMeet Lisa McCusker Sherer –  a performer, supermom, lover of the arts and passionate about bringing smiles to children every day. We have known Lisa for many years — performed together onstage at Upper Darby Summer Stage back in the day and have kept in touch over the years. Like many — she’s a hardworking, super proud mother of two amazing kids — who believes in the value of exposing children to performing arts as a fun way to build the value of teamwork, instill self-confidence and self-expression. We think you’ll love her story!

Lisa – thanks a million for participating in our Limelight Interview series. We love your story because it could apply to so many moms and dads who are thinking of how to get their kids involved in activities that work on the inner child. You have a long love-affair with the arts. Whether it is performing or supporting — it’s clear it is important to you. How was this instilled in you?
From an early age I loved TV.  I had a wonderful dance teacher who saw I could sing much better than I could dance and took me to the Al Alberts Showcase taping at the ABC Studio on City Line Avenue.  I was hooked and knew if my mom could curl my hair, I could be the next Shirley Temple.  Al Alberts, is a Philadelphia kids talent show that no one knows of today, unless you are in a certain age group and Shirley Temple who kids are clueless about!

That’s great — and yes — you really do need to be of a certain age to remember Al Alberts. Tell us about your first show. What are your memories of that experience?
My first high school show was at Cardinal O’Hara, my grammar school took a bunch of us kids (I was in 3rd grade) to audition and I was the only blonde princess in the King and I. A classmate who was Asian also was cast and he needed a “traveling buddy” so I got chosen. For the shows I had to shoe polish my hair to look the part.

And that led to your first lead role — what was it and how was that experience?
My first lead was at Upper Darby Summer Stage.  I was a Junior in high school and auditioned for the role of “Mrs. Darling” in Peter Pan.  I was typing in the theater office and Harry Dietzler (Founder and Director) told me to audition – I got the part and Matt Cloran was my first summer stage director, I did shows in high school but was a chorus girl. It was magical and frightening! I cried on stage I was so scared. Matt told me my solo was amazing and that I had nailed the role as a mom who was worried for her kids. LOL!  The 2nd show was a little better! I performed for 4 days and it was awesome!! My confidence grew each show.

We love Matt – doesn’t surprise us that he was so supportive. How did that exposure to the performing arts guide you in your adult life?
Well, for example in my business, I have had to stand in front of several people and give presentations. That takes self-confidence. I have had several jobs over the years where my lessons learned during the summer stage years stuck with me and the confidence was there to “perform” in the corporate world.

So true! We hear that a lot. Let’s change gears to your children — obvious you love them like crazy and are a huge supporter of their endeavors. I heard you once say something along the lines of “exposing my kids to the performing arts was not about encouraging them to be professional actors — but more about giving them critical skills to be successful in any career”. What specifically did you mean there?
To give kids a foundation in the arts in my opinion is priceless.  The confidence you see grow, the leadership skills developing over time, even knowing you need the proper diction and enunciation for doing presentations at an early age has given my kids a head start.  For example – Matthew, my oldest, was given a ‘job’ in middle school (he attended a private college prep school).  During visitation weeks, he was giving tours of the school by 7th grade.  The head master told me he was the only boy in the class who did not “grunt” when he spoke.  He was able to be a role model for the school during a marketing period which normally is left to adults. You learn loyalty and dedication and a true love of something.

That’s great! Your kids — they do it all — marching band, movies, stage, TV – is it more of a hobby or a passion for them now?
Both!  Matthew continues to model and act.  He now has his own apartment at 22 years old and auditions for background acting jobs in New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. He is a waiter during his down time to ‘pay the rent’.

Olivia loves music and has leadership values that will take her to Penn State this fall.  One of her college goals is to be “on stage for THON” and to be in a leadership role that will require her to wear a headset and radio while studying business and sports management.

How will this exposure better prepare them for their adult life?
They are both actually shy kids.  But because of their love for the arts they step out of their comfort zone once they feel the warmth of the stage lights.  Both are responsible and have life skills and leadership skills that were formed during their younger years.  They have patience which is rare for kids today.  Being on a set for a TV show is very much “hurry up and wait”. I enjoy live stage better, but have done work with Matthew on TV during his younger years.  He has more patience than I do while on set!

They often say – the friendships you form in a theatrical show are lifelong. Is that really true? Why are they so lasting in your opinion?
Yes. It’s really true.  Being a theater kid is being special.  Years ago, you were a geek with nowhere to go — today there are several day camps, summer theater programs all which sell-out because parents realize that importance of the theater  — you learn to be in a team, you learn patience and determination. Not everyone wins a lead, you earn it – you learn respect for your fellow cast members and bond to them.  Being on a live stage you need to trust the cast and crew around you. I am still friends with my summer stage friends from 1980.  Before it was hours worth of telephone calls, now we are all on Facebook and we don’t skip a beat.

You performed in the 40th Anniversary Season at Upper Darby Summer Stage last summer — what was it like getting on that stage again?  Were you a bundle of nerves or was it like riding a bicycle?
It was so much fun and just like riding a bike I loved every moment of it. I saw people where conversations picked up where they left off and harmonies that I had not sung in years stuck in my head for weeks after our performances!

It was clear you were having a blast — and you were great in those numbers. What was the role that got away? If you could turn back the hands of time (or even now) — what juicy part would you be sinking your teeth into?
As a kid, it was the role of “Star To Be” in Annie in 1984. You see, this little bratty kid showed up to audition and blew the house down with an amazing set of pipes.  To this day, it’s one of my favorite roles, not because I performed it, but because I saw a kid who deserved to have that role and do an amazing job.  I have done the show Annie several times, I performed in several different roles but never as “Star To Be”. Oh – and that bratty kid — we formed a friendship that year that has lasted to this day.  Now she runs an amazing theatre studio in Chester County!
Hahaha – that is hilarious! Wait until Ann (Ann Pinto McCarney, founder of Limelight Performing Arts Center) reads this — you will surely be getting a phone call. 

Let’s talk about your passion with kids. You do some pretty incredible work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation – surely some performing is present when you engage with those courageous children. What skills are you drawing from to succeed in that role?
I perform every time I meet a Wish Child.  From wings, to wand, crazy-colored sneakers and of course a tiara. I meet the children either at their homes or in hospitals.  My job is to interview them and being the magic of their wishes.

What is the most rewarding part of your work there and how do you remain such a positive light for the kids?
To see the kids’ faces when we return with the paperwork or ‘go light’ for a wish to be fulfilled is amazing. After paperwork, there are still medical approvals that need to be done. My job is to make sure at the initial interview that no matter what the outcome — that day was a fun and exciting day spent dreaming and not thinking about “I’m too sick” for anything. Being with Wish Kids is truly the most amazing, magical, humbling, sad, and frustrating of adventures. No child deserves to have a life-changing illness as a child.
Wow! What a job — and we can’t think of a better person to fill those crazy-colored sneakers and tiara.

Do you have any parting words for moms and dads reading this interview?
I would only say to young parents, don’t miss out on the joys of the world of live theater.  My generation is the last generation of “before too much technology” when kids played outside, created shows in the back yard, played house and recreated shows from watching family TV shows that are a lost art.  Sports are great, I played softball, my kids played sports but being involved with the arts is so different.  It’s magical.  So take your kids to see shows, go to see summer theater productions, participate and feel the magic and let it touch the imagination of the next generation.

Love that!!! So true — well thanks Lisa for sharing your thoughts — lots to think about. We understand that directing is your passion these days but we hope to see you back onstage someday soon — maybe at Limelight?!

Meet Lauren McAlee

 

Meet Lauren McAlee!lauren headshot

She’s a singer, dancer and actress extraordinaire… and she’s only in 4th grade! Lauren has been keeping busy with performing at Limelight – it’s all about Seussical lately– first playing in the professional production, the kids cast and then starring as Jojo in the High School production…that’s a lot of Seuss!

Lauren brings such a fresh enthusiasm to performing – we thought you’d love to read about this sweet and energetic young lady – enjoy!

 

Lauren – thanks for taking the time be interviewed for our “You In The Spotlight” blog series. You are fresh off the heels of Limelight’s professional production of Seussical The Musical. Lots of rehearsal and 3 weekends of shows — you must be exhausted. Was it a lot of work or a lot of fun for you to be in that production?
It was definitely tons of fun. At times it was tiring and a lot of hard work. We rehearsed every Sunday for months for nine hours so some of the Mondays I was very cranky. But at the end it was all worth it!

What is the single most thing you miss the most about it being over?
I really miss the cast! I learned so much from rehearsing with the grownups and the older kids. We were together a lot so all the kids in the ensemble became really good friends. I still talk to the kids and we are hoping to get together soon for a reunion. I don’t miss the Seussical script and songs though because now I am rehearsing for January’s Seussical Kids (grades 1-5) as a Bird Girl and Seussical, Jr.(high school) as JoJo! I am really excited to be Jojo! That’s a lot of Seuss!

Tell us about the first time you knew you wanted to be onstage performing before a live audience. What was it that inspired you to say “I want to do that!”
Well, I started dance classes when I was 2.5 years old so I was on stage for many Christmas shows and recitals. I always loved to sing, dress up and pretend but I didn’t do any theatre stuff. When I went to my first West Chester Summer Stage audition I was really nervous but I got a part and I was very excited to see what it was like. I LOVED West Chester Summer Stage and that’s when I got the acting bug. So I guess I’d say WCSS and Mrs. McCarney inspired me.

You have such a spark on stage – I remember your performance as Ariel in The Little Mermaid – you really seemed to understand the character and it shined off of your face. You were wonderful in that role — how was that overall experience for you?
Thanks! Well, of course Mermaid was an awesome experience for me! I felt the pressure at times during practices but the other kids and Mrs. McCarney made me feel better. We would work together as a team and I think we did a great show.

How did you prepare for the auditions for that part? Were you surprised when you saw you were cast in the lead role?
When I have an audition coming up I sing the songs and practice the lines over and over and over. I practice so much that my brothers throw me out of the room! But it is so much fun to practice and I get so excited to audition. When I found out I was Ariel I was in shock! I couldn’t believe that I was Ariel after all those years of pretending to be a princess.

Tell us about the favorite roles you played or productions you were in and what you learned about yourself while performing in them.
I loved being an angel in the Nutcracker at the Rock School West. I haven’t really had time to do it again but I hope to some Christmas soon. I am finally old enough to be in the talent show at school this year too so I am looking forward to that.

What roles do you hope to play one day if given the opportunity? What is it about those roles that interest you?
I would love to be Annie someday. She is very feisty and I like that she can light up a room with a song. I would also love to be Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods because the songs are amazing. I never saw the play but I loved the movie. I cannot wait to see the professional version of Into The Woods at Limelight. I think Mrs. McCarney will be the perfect witch!

We often hear that young people who participate in performing arts helps to build confidence and improve school grades because it requires you to manage your time wisely, be accountable for meeting deadlines, speak in front of others, working with a team, etc. — can you say you have seen any improvement as a result of you being involved in the performing arts?
Being involved in theatre has helped me in many ways. I am more confident to do speeches or read in school. I also play the flute, basketball and take two dances classes each week so I am pretty busy. But I like busy – I get bored easily! I definitely have learned that I need to plan out my homework and projects around preparing for and going to Limelight classes or rehearsals.

What is your favorite part of performing — acting, singing, dancing? What comes easiest and what comes hardest?
I definitely like singing the best because it comes easy to me. I find the acting part the hardest because I always get nervous about missing a cue or forgetting lines and messing up who goes next. There was this one line in Mermaid that I always messed up. I’d go over it a hundred times but I think I’d get so nervous that I was going to mess it up that I couldn’t think straight. So of course I messed it up and I messed up King Triton —but we recovered.

Why do you think it is important as a young person to constantly challenge yourself and learn new skills?
I think it helps me to grow up! As I do new things in theatre or in anything I like, that new skill helps me get one step further. So all those little skills I learn along the way get me ready for the next thing I think is a big deal at that time.

Tell us what Broadway musical you are singing all the time lately? Is it your all-time fave?
I was singing songs from the Secret Garden because I had a couple of auditions last month but now I am back to singing Seuss all day. Seuss is definitely my fave right now!

I was really surprised to learn you have a hearing impairment. Most would think it’s hard to sing and act with this but obviously you don’t have any difficulty do you?
Yes, I am 100% deaf in my left ear. Many people do not know I have a hearing problem until they go to whisper in my ear. It’s kind of funny because they look at me like …What? Huh!? The inside of my left ear is shaped differently which causes the hearing problem but I am lucky because most people that have this problem have it in BOTH ears! We didn’t know that I had a problem until I was almost four. Apparently one day in the movie theater (during the Princess and the Frog) my mom was whispering in my ear about popcorn and I told her angrily to “use the other ear”! My parents said it was scary at first but they say it didn’t and still hasn’t really caused many problems for me. My mom always says my right ear is “supersonic” because I hear everything even when she’s whispering! HA! I have learned that I really need to pay attention in certain places like in class, near traffic, in the gym when playing basketball and places like that. I have worked with hearing teachers who taught me not to be shy about asking for things to be repeated or for a better seat so I can hear better. Sometimes it bothers me and I wish I could hear better but when I think about kids who have so many other BIG problems than I know I am lucky it’s only an ear!

Thanks so much for sharing that information as well as sharing your love for the arts with us!  Thank you, this was fun!

Well there you have it folks – come see Lauren as Jojo at Limelight Performing Arts Center – this girl is going to be a big star one day – get your chance while you can .

Mullin Family

It’s THANK YOU THURSDAY! ‪

Seussical Studio Dedicated to Nick Mullin

We would like to thank some very special people for supporting Limelight. When we began our GoFundMe campaign last year our dear friends made some very thoughtful contributions. We are eternally grateful and to show our appreciation we dedicated space in our Performing Arts Center and our set designer, Peggy Fotusky, really outdid herself with her design and beautiful artwork.

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Tom and Dee Mullin’s son Nick was involved in our West Chester Summer Stage Program during his battle with cancer. Despite his struggles, he lit up our stage with his huge talent and a smile that inspired everyone he encountered. One of our studios is now dedicated to Nick – a beautiful tribute to him and the show Seussical he starred in (in fact – we are proud to display his unicycle and red converse sneakers that he used in our production). It is our privilege to honor Nick and his courageous parents who are succeeding at keeping his memory strong and making a difference through their Nick Smiles on the Arts Foundation.

Honestly – the pictures don’t do the studio justice – we encourage you to visit our performing arts center and see this studio for yourself – it’s a great place for learning. Thanks Mullins for allowing us to share Nick’s story with our students and for your continuous loyalty and support of Limelight!

 

 

 

For more information on the Nick Smiles on the Arts Foundation and the wonderful causes it supports – please visit:  www.nicksmiles.org

For more information on Limelight Performing Arts Center –please visit: www.limepac.com

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Meet Chad Parsons!

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 Meet Chad Parsons!

A talented Philadelphia actor, director and acting teacher – Chad keeps himself busy with his own personal artistic endeavors as well as enriching the talents of our students in various acting and musical theater classes at Limelight. In addition – he has directed many shows at both Limelight and our own West Chester Summer Stage. His high energy, big smile and enthusiasm for working with his cast and students sets him apart – he truly wants each actor to reach their absolute best performance in every single production. We found it only fitting to let Chad “Step Into The Limelight” – we hope you learn a thing or two from this veteran performer. Enjoy!
Welcome Chad! You might be one of the busiest Actors/Directors in the Philly area – what are you working on now?
I am currently Directing Seussical The Musical here at Limelight and I couldn’t be more excited. Last year was an incredible first season with Broadway Bound, Annie Jr., Grease and Little Mermaid – but this year it’s all about Seussical for the Fall Series and most exciting is the introduction of our first Professional production with many of the area’s most talented, professional actors. What’s even more exciting is we cast several young artists to join the cast – it’s an incredible experience for them to be onstage and in the presence of working professionals. It will be like an acting intensive for them every rehearsal. I’m interested to see how they will grow as a result of this experience – they are already hugely talented kids but trust me – they will grow!

That is so exciting. At what point in your life did you decide “this is my profession” and fully commit to being a working professional?
After a year at Mansfield University studying Elementary Education (following in my parents footsteps) I had a moment when I found out that Mansfield was making big cuts to the theatre program and one of the cuts included the yearly musical. The thought of not being able to perform killed me . . . So I left. It was at this moment I really decided to push forward and pursue a passion that I had no idea where it was going to take me. I knew I was going to have tough times, I heard it about a MILLION times from my parents. But I made a decision to immerse myself into theatre. I still struggle with performing vs. behind the scenes as to which one I “like” more, and the truth is, I love it all. I love how we as artists interpret characters and story. How we show our audience what we want them to see. That fascinates me.

Along those lines…If you’re not acting, you’re directing and vice versa – what is the most rewarding to you personally?
That is a tough question because I LOVE sharing a character with an audience. But I found Directing to be more rewarding for me. Because it’s like my head explodes on the stage. And it’s a really cool feeling to see it come to life. You sit back and smile because you have an awesome cast with an amazing production team that all collaborated together to make this fully realized show. And sometimes you have no words for that but “Thank You”.

For the young actors who perform in our productions, or who decide to enroll in a class to further their education: what is the one thing you want them to get out of the experience that will benefit them in the future? What do you really want to see more of from them as well?
I want my students to walk away knowing that hard work pays off. Focus pays off. You learn so much about yourself and others as a theatre professional. I want them to learn about who they are. Regardless if you continue to pursue theatre as a profession or not, you will always remember the times you had when you were “in a show.”

As a seasoned performer who auditions a lot – AND – a working director who auditions actors a lot: What advice can you give new actors on the audition process? How should they prepare, approach and execute the audition?
To quote Billy Porter “When you get to a certain level. Everybody can sing, everybody can dance, everybody can act and EVERYBODY is cute . . . You have to find out what makes you stand out, what makes you special.” You will never be the person next to you or 10 people in front of you who you just heard belt her face off and you know you don’t sound like that. Don’t let that intimidate you! From experience being on the other side of the table, the director is looking for his/her vision of the character. You must always bring YOU. How do you prepare to audition?. . . AUDITION! You learn so much every time you go on an audition, no matter what the outcome is. Of course you should always be prepared and research the show you’re going in for. And make sure you prepare anything that is specifically asked of you.

Be honest – when you are directing someone and you offer a specific way to read a line – do you want them to just say it the way you said it while having them believe they thought of it?
Partially . . . but I want more the essence of what/how I say the line. I usually give line readings to the younger students who are not yet willing to come out and say things using their intentions.

Let’s change gears and focus on you as the actor:
What was your favorite role and where did you perform it?
My favorite role was Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof at Fulton Opera House.

What a great venue and show – Fiddler always seems to be at the top of list for many an actor. Share with us a little – If we were to see you backstage minutes before your entrance – what would we find you doing?
If it’s my first entrance in the show I am super focused and in a zone, and running through things in my head. Sometimes I start to walk around backstage physically getting into character. But once we start rolling I’m a little more relaxed backstage but overall I’m quiet and stay focused on the show that’s going on so I don’t miss a cue (which I have done before so I have learned my lesson). It happened to be while I was talking about a person who had just missed their cue . . . so Karma!

Have you ever been cast in a role where despite all your preparation – you never fully felt like you were doing your best work?
YES! I was cast as MacDuff in “MacBeth” It was COMPLETELY outside my comfort zone. But it was one of the most rewarding experiences in the end. I never felt like I connected fully to it in moments, and wish I had more time and training to fully develop what I only felt like I was skimming the surface of.

You landed the role – what comes next – character development and preparation or memorizing those lines?
UGH! I am SO BAD at memorization!! I research first. I visualize and physicalize my character and get in it’s brain while reading through and taking notes in the script. I let it develop more when I begin to be active with my scene partners. Memorization for me comes through repetition and connecting thoughts and actions in the blocking.

What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you onstage?
I made up a whole verse of “Surrey With A Fringe On Top”:
“All around is all around, the cows will moo in the clover, and just when you’re thinking everything is still, oh guess what it’s not over” . . . then I forget what I said next, I was a sweaty mess and blanked out . . . but I’m sure it was brilliant, but I finished with “The frogs will hop, and the stars will . . . pop!”

That’s hilarious – terrifying I’m sure but now you probably have gotten more laughs about it. Tell us about a role you really wanted but didn’t get – what did you learn from the process?
I really wanted to be cast in the National Tour of “Wizard of Oz”. I had just played the tin man at a regional theatre and went to the tour call. I made it down to the final 3 Tin Men and they ended up casting someone who was already on tour with them. That was a moment I learned it’s sometimes “who you know”. I also learned that either of the other two guys could have played the role as well. We all had our own qualities in the character and that was a cool thing to see how slightly different each of us were. You can learn a lot from observing other actors.

What genre of performing arts just doesn’t do anything for you?
Bizarre Street Performance Art . . . I try!!! I respect them.

I’m with you on that one…Which do you prefer most: Sinking your teeth into a gritty dramatic role or an outrageously funny role? Why?
I LOVE funny roles!! Duh!! But lately I have wanted to sink my teeth into more dramatic roles just to challenge myself and see how far I can go with a role.

Tell us about your dream role – the one you haven’t performed yet.
Seymour from “Little Shop” hands down! I love that show and that character! Plus anytime three girls riff it up and sing tight harmonies, I’m in!

You heard it here folks – cast this man as Seymour fast before someone else grabs him! Chad – thanks for taking the time – we can’t wait to see what you have planned for Seussical the Musical!


Seussical opens November 6th – visit www.limepac.com for more information on dates, times and how to purchase tickets or email tickets@limepac.com.

 

 

 

Please Welcome Andrew Blank!

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Andrew has a long history with us — from his many performances at West Chester Summer Stage to local school productions and here at Limelight, too. We have watched him grow and mature over the years into a fine, talented young man and actor onstage. He’s the kind of young man who pushes himself, takes risks and keeps education as a priority in life. Given his love and commitment for theater — we thought other young performers may relate and learn from his approach. Enjoy!

 

Andrew – Welcome to Limelight’s “Step Into Your Spotlight” interview series. It’s hard to keep up with you — tell us what you are up to these days.
Right now, I am just getting ready for school to start again. I am president of the Choir so I have been doing things to prepare for that. It’s a big job but it’s going to be a lot of fun! I am also Vice President of the Ambassadors Club at Bishop Shanahan High School and they are very active at the beginning of the new year to welcome new students! Auditions for our musical, White Christmas, is coming up so we are all preparing for those auditions. Also, there are papal choir practices so I have been very busy!

Wow – you are busy for sure! You have a long history with West Chester Summer Stage – how old were you and what was your first production?
My first show was actually when I was five or six years old. I did Little Rascals for one year but then took a break and didn’t do it again until the summer after 5th grade.

What do you remember most about it?
I do not remember anything from my Little Rascals days but from my 5th grade year, I remember having a few little solos and loving performing. It really began my passion for theater!

And then last year you scored two lead roles in Limelight’s production of Grease – what did you do to prepare for that audition?
Well, this actually wasn’t my first time in Grease. I played Eugene in Grease at Notre Dame my freshman year so I already knew the show and all of the songs. Being in this show before definitely helped with my preparation because I knew exactly how each character could be played. I was able to just think about how I would say each line or walk into a scene as that person. I just had to add my own personal touches to it.

I remember your performance as Eugene too — three roles from the same show — that’s pretty awesome. For a young man — you keep pretty busy with performing — tell us how many shows you have done to date?
I have been in 19 shows total (Starting my 20th very soon)!

Amazing – that’s a lot of stage time. What was your favorite role and why?
My favorite role that I have played was Kenickie in Grease! Kenickie was so far from who I am, so I had to step out of my comfort zone to do this. There were some many things that he would say and do that I would never have, but it gave me the opportunity to portray that person. The character himself is so fun because he really doesn’t care what people think and just did whatever he felt like.

Clearly you are a good student of the arts – Share with your fellow performers what you do to continue learning and broadening your craft?
I take voice lessons with Kim Russell Voice Studio once a week which is truly important. Taking voice lessons really strengthens your ability as a singer and a performer, and I suggest everyone take them! I have also taken classes at Limelight to help with acting and performing. My biggest thing is just to be in as many shows as I can. I am usually in three shows per year but if I have the opportunity, I try to be in more! Working with different actors, directors, choreographers, and musical directors has taught me so much because they all have their own ideas and techniques.

Very good point — the exposure to those Directors and Choreographers during the rehearsal process is like taking performance classes in itself. So given that — what comes hardest for you: script memorization, singing, choreography, acting? Share with us what you do to work harder on those skills that don’t come as easy.
Acting has always been the hardest for me. To work harder, I go over my lines all the time in my head. Being memorized early on really helps because then I’m not as focused on what the words are, but more what I am really saying and how it should be said, as well as, how it would be said as that character.

That’s a good tip — get off the script as early as you can so that more time can be spent on further character development. Was there ever a time when you didn’t land the role you wanted despite putting in the proper preparation? How did you bounce back?
There has been a few times that I have not gotten parts that I really wanted. I always asked my directors afterwards what they thought that I needed to improve on. I took their feedback and really worked on what they had to say so that I was ready for my next audition.

Always learning — love that. What was the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a live performance?
In Grease, a friend of mine who was playing Danny completely messed up a famous line in the song “We Go Together”. Everyone on stage just kind of looked at one another in disbelief that he really did mess up. It was so hard to not laugh on stage but we were in the middle of the song so we all tried to just keep it together. It was all we talked about during intermission though!

Can you directly link how your dedication to stage performance has helped you succeed in other areas of your life?
Stage performance has helped me build my confidence. At the beginning of High School, I was an extremely shy kid and I didn’t talk to many other students. Performing on stage and having to be up there in front of so many people helped me come out of my shell and become more confident and sociable.

What’s the one piece of advice about performing that someone gave you that you’d like to share with your fellow actors?
One thing that I always struggled with was being confident in my self and my acting choices. I wouldn’t go full out or do things that I thought could work because I was afraid it may look dumb. I realized that taking those chances, and really going for it can make your performance amazing!

Let’s change gears a second to something very special to us. You were a recipient of the prestigious West Chester Summer Stage Nick Mullin Scholarship Award that recognizes young performers who possess the same bright outlook on life and enthusiasm for the arts that Nick had — tell us about that experience?
Receiving the Nick Mullin Scholarship Award was an honor. Being a part of West Chester Summer Stage and the Fine Arts Department at Bishop Shanahan, I had heard so much about Nick and who he was. Everyone who knew Nick has so many wonderful stories of his character and passion for the arts and his name brings a smile to their face. Winning this award and being recognized for possessing similar qualities to Nick was such an amazing and humbling experience!

That’s awesome — and choosing you came easy — you have those same gifts and talents.
Tell us about this exciting little (ok maybe this once-in-a-lifetime chance) to sing for the Pope? You must be pretty excited about that, huh?
Singing for the Pope is going to be amazing! I’m so excited! There are about eight rehearsals total before the big day, and two of them are at the Kimmel Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra. That will be so fantastic! The whole day and weekend is going to be so wonderful and I’m so glad and blessed to be a part of such a momentous and historical occasion!

It really is an incredible opportunity. I think all the years you devoted to your craft has prepared you for this opportunity — so you are very deserving. High School will be wrapping up soon — do you think you will continue to perform in college and after?
I would love to continue performing. Performing is my passion and I would never want to give that up. I plan to minor in musical theater to allow myself to continue doing what I love and working on my skills!

Terrific – keep doing what you do best. We look forward to seeing your last few performances before college life. Thanks for talking with us Andrew – as they say, “Break a leg”.