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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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”.

 

 

Pat Shane

Limelight Interviews Pat Shane– We’ve Enjoyed Watching Him Grow!

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Pat Shane is no stranger to Limelight Performing Arts Center. He currently teaches a Youth Theater class at our studio but his roots with us go way back many years at our three-week summer camp, West Chester Summer Stage (WCSS). First he was a performer and more recently as an instructor and camp counselor with WCSS. Pat is keeping himself very busy in the performing community — his words of wisdom and experiences make his advice relevant to many of the young performers in our studio. It’s been such fun watching him grow over the years and the sky is the limit for his future.

What’s new? What are you up to these days?

It’s been a very fun year for me!  At the beginning of 2014, I started an Acting Apprenticeship with the Walnut Street Theatre.  This consisted mostly of a touring production of an educational show that reached almost 80 schools throughout the Philadelphia/New Jersey area.  I was also given the opportunity to understudy in one of their Mainstage productions, Other Desert Cities. Currently, I am a teaching artist with the Walnut Street Theatre, as well as a performer in the Media Theatre’s production of Les Miserables.

How has your theater training helped prepare you for where you are today?

I received my theatre degree from Bucknell University, a liberal arts college not well known for the dramatic arts.  This led to small class sizes and productions.  However, it allowed the faculty to give as much individual attention as needed to each actor.  I looked into the larger conservatories, but there you are practically a small fish in a big pond.  At Bucknell, I was able to nurture my talent in an environment that had the time and resources to challenge me.

What was your favorite role? Where did you perform it?

There is one role that will always have a special place in my heart.  The Fall after I had graduated college, I got the part of Gary Soos: a naive Teach for America student determined to change the educational world (and a lover of puns).  The show was called Awesome Alliteration: The Magical Musical and it was presented as part of the Philly Fringe Arts Festival.  The role was comedic, romantic, passionated, and absolutely cartoonish.  It was a blast to play, and I hope to play it again one day.

How did you prepare for the audition? Can you share some of your tricks?

There are 3 things I do before every audition:
1) If it’s available, read the play.  If you are auditioning for a musical, listen to the music.  Go on YouTube and watch the dancing.  Just like a football player studies film before a game, an actor must prepare.  In some auditions, the director likes to ask you about the character you are auditioning for.  Make sure you have something intelligent to contribute.
2) Find material appropriate to the production.  Don’t use a Shakespeare monologue for a modern play.  Don’t sing a Taylor Swift song for My Fair Lady.  It seem’s like common sense, but casting directors tell stories all the time of inappropriate audition material.  No matter how good you may sound, they will shut you out.
3)  Don’t over-prepare.  Memorize your monologue, perform it a few times in front of a mirror.  Learn your song, and sing through it a few times.  THEN STOP!  Casting directors aren’t looking for a perfectly polished audition piece.  They want to see some naturalism and organic moments throughout the audition.  Also, many directors will give you notes and have you sing or act again.  Make sure you are flexible enough in your approach that you are able to change it to what the directors say.

Are you still performing today?

Yes, I am, and I’m very lucky to be doing so!

True or False: Regardless of how well you prepared for a role — you still get nervous before walking out on stage.

100% true!  The nerves spawn from an excitement to do well, an excitement for the audience to enjoy it, and an excitement to share the experience with my fellow actors.

How do you prepare for a role? What is your approach to getting inside of a character?

While many actors like to work on their own, I think that character development is a team effort.  Sure, I’ll have many ideas on what the character should be, but I believe the input of the director, choreographer, and the playwright play an important role.  As for getting into character, I try my best to take on their point of view.  Why do they act the way they do?  If there aren’t clues in the text, does my backstory make sense?  Do I need to make up a backstory to give him more depth?  I very rarely have a grasp on my character until the middle of the rehearsal process.

What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you onstage?

Oh boy, this is also my most embarrassing.  I believe in the Macbeth curse…

I was performing in Macbeth during the summer in between my Sophomore and Junior year at college.  One the roles that I played was Banquo’s Murderer.  During Banquo’s death scene, as I approached him with my ax, I felt the elastic in the waistband of my pants give out.  So there I was, ax in one hand, and holding my pants up with the other.  I had to finish the murder like this and pray to God that no one in the audience caught glimpse of the Simpsons boxers I had on underneath…

Tell us about a role you really wanted but didn’t get — what did you learn from the process?

A specific role doesn’t come to mind, but I’m always disappointed when I don’t get the role I auditioned for, even when I’m not right for it! The biggest thing I’ve learned is that just because you didn’t book the part doesn’t mean you aren’t talented. There are so many factors that contribute to the casting process, and as long as you are willing to keep trying, you will find success.

How do you handle rejection?

It takes time, reassurance, and hanging out with friends and family.

Tell us about any special training you have.

I spent one summer training with the San Francisco Mime Troupe located in the Mission district of San Francisco.  The training consisted of commedia dell’Arte and physical theatre. In layman’s terms, it was clowning! The troupe specializes in satirical political theatre with emphasis on parody and clowning. I learned that even the most mundane activity can have comedic effects when done at extreme levels. It was a fun and challenging summer!

What excites you most about being in front of a live audience?

Interestingly enough, for me, I love the control. When I’m speaking or singing on stage, I sometimes become fully aware that I have the power to control the emotions of the audience. Their enjoyment rests solely on my performance, and that’s such a rush for me!

Which do you prefer most: plays or musicals? Why?

I prefer to act in plays, but would rather watch a musical! I’m not the best dancer, so musicals always impress me more than straight plays.

Which do you prefer most: Sinking your teeth into a gritty dramatic role or an outrageously funny role? Why?

Comedy will always trump drama for me. I would rather make someone laugh then cry (I think that’s a good life motto too!)

Who is your favorite playwright?

David Mamet — love all of his works!

Who is your favorite lyricist and composer?

Stephen Schwartz! Godspell, Pippin, Wicked…you can’t go wrong.

Tell us about your dream role.

Like any male in their 20s these days, I would love to be in The Book of Mormon! The musical is funny, endearing, and jaw-dropping at moments. I think performing in that show every night and seeing audience reactions would fuel any artistic spirit.

Have you ever considered directing  does that interest you?

No! I tried directing in college, and all I wanted was to be up on the stage!

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