GTA Blog

Gainesville Theatre Alliance Welcomes New Artistic Director, Invites Patrons Back to a Full Season of Theatre

(OCT 3, 2022—GAINESVILLE, GA) Gainesville Theatre Alliance audiences will recognize a familiar face stepping into the role of Artistic Director. Zechariah Pierce, Associate Director of University of North Georgia’s newly-formed School of Communication, Film & Theatre and GTA alumnus, has recently been appointed to the role of GTA Artistic Director. Pierce graduated with an MFA in Theatre pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University and acts professionally on both stage and screen. His focus in teaching centers around acting as it pertains to both the live and digital platforms, while also using pedagogies steeped in mask, clown, and physical comedy to teach movement-based techniques.

Pierce is looking to the future with hopes for a return to normalcy after the disruption of the last two years. “I hope to bring back our season subscription model, a revitalized Theatre Wings organization with new membership, more student engagement in our production leadership, and continued growth for our beloved theatrical season,” Pierce says.

GTA’s continued collaboration between UNG and Brenau University will also be enhanced by the creation of UNG’s new School of Communication, Film & Theatre. “We discovered during our digital productions of The Tempest and Songs for a New World that we had a thriving Film department right next door that was eager to continue collaborating,” Pierce says. “This directly translates into more opportunities for our students, but it will also provide more events that are open to the general public.”

GTA’s 2022-23 season is now underway, and promises to be one of the most exciting yet, mixing classic stories with modern musicals.

  • GTA New Works Festival
    October 20-23, 2022 at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville’s Ed Cabell Theatre
    The GTA New Works Festival introduces GTA audiences to the next generation of stories for the American theatre. Staged readings of new plays from GTA students and alumni include JJ and the Nauts by Dellan Short, Spoonful of Chaos by Halli Rider, Thicker than Water by Justin Williams, and GTA Shorts, an evening of short plays written and directed by GTA students. These readings are free to the public.
  • Urinetown: The Musical, music and lyrics by Mark Hollman, book and lyrics by Greg Kotis
    November 11-19, 2022 at Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre
    In a not-so distant, drought-stricken future, a malevolent company profits by charging admission for a basic need. Hilariously funny and touchingly honest, this Tony-Award winning musical is an irreverent satire in which no one is safe from scrutiny.
  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    February 10-18, 2022 at Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre
    Shaw’s Nobel Prize-winning dramatization of a Cockney flower girl’s metamorphosis into a lady is both a fantasy and a platform for his views on social class, money, and women’s independence. This classic comedic play inspired the musical My Fair Lady.
  • John & Jen, lyrics by Tom Greenwald, music by Andrew Lippa, book by Tom Greenwald and Andrew Lippa
    March 2-5, 2023 at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville’s Ed Cabell Theatre
    This small but powerful musical explores the dynamics of family relationships, set against the background of a changing America between 1950 and 1990. John & Jen is a gem of a show brimming with intelligence, wit, and beautiful melodies.
  • 1984, adapted by Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall Jr., and William A. Miles Jr. from the novel by George Orwell
    April 14-22, 2023 at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville’s Ed Cabell Theatre
    This stage adaptation of Orwell’s classic dystopian world is true to the novel in which Orwell depicts a society where Big Brother is always watching—where everything that is not prohibited is compulsory. 1984 is a cautionary tale of an omnipresent government.

Tickets for Urinetown: The Musical are on sale now. Other productions will go on sale four weeks before each opening. Patrons should check the GTA website or sign up for the GTA email list to be notified when tickets are available.

ABOUT GAINESVILLE THEATRE ALLIANCE:
Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a one-of-a-kind, nationally-recognized collaboration between the University of North Georgia and Brenau University. Utilizing hands-on, individualized training while emphasizing ensemble and collaboration between programs, GTA boasts a production program rivaling the largest theatre schools in the country. For more information, visit GainesvilleTheatreAlliance.org.

Meet a Few of the GTA Faculty

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” —Mark Van Doren

 

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

We recently sat down with some of the GTA faculty to ask them what they have learned over the last year and what their plans are for the upcoming summer break. Read on for our conversations with Professor of Theatre Larry Cook, Associate Professor of Theatre Pamela Workman, Professor of Theatre Elisa Carlson, and Senior Instructor of Theatre Terri Becker.


Larry Cook, Professor of Theatre, UNG
Professor of Theatre Larry Cook

What is your role at GTA?

Larry Cook: Mostly, I teach now. I still get to design and work in the shop on shows a bit, too. I suppose if I had to pick just one, I’d teach. While I love working with my hands and creating, I can do that on my own anytime I’d like—and I have. Teaching has the singular joy of allowing me to have a part in the formation of young artists. I was telling someone just the other day that the real payoff is when you’ve been in it long enough to see your once young and emerging artist students now, as fully developed artists in their own right. Sometimes with students of their own. So, yeah, teaching, and continuing to learn myself, is my favorite part.

What lessons have you learned this year?

Larry Cook: That I still have a lot to learn. And, I have yet to outgrow the mean streak of procrastination and laziness that is within me. It’s a daily struggle but I keep working at it. Maybe one day…

What are you looking forward to next year?

Working with Michael Jablonski again in production. I love Michael’s approach to, and energy in, production and I’m thinking Urinetown will be lots of fun and a potent piece of theatre for this time in American culture. I’m also looking forward to finding out what GTA is next semester. In many ways we’ll be starting anew for the second time in two years. That is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. There will be challenges but what a great time to be in GTA!

What do you do over the summer to relax?

Larry Cook: I like to be outdoors. So I spend a fair amount of time in the summer camping, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, etc. I also like to accomplish home improvements in the summer.

What words of inspiration do you have for students?

Larry Cook: Best advice I ever got: “Learn everything you can.” In my experience, there is no such thing as a “waste of time” spent learning—no knowledge is wasted. For a theatre artist this is especially true. Our craft is as old as humanity, so anything that is encompassed and created by humanity is a part of theatre. The history of theatre is the history of humans. I could give numerous examples but here’s an easy one: when an actor/director/designer analyzes a script, one of the primary things they are looking for are the “whys.”  Why did this character do or say this specific thing at this specific moment in the story. Psychology is the study of why sentient beings, mostly humans, do what they do. Why wouldn’t a theatre artist want to be well-versed in psychology, sociology, anthropology and the like?  Even though, on the face of it, these things have nothing to do with theatre. Math and science are all over the design/tech side of theatre. History is any theatre artist’s bread and butter. So I hope my words inspire GTA students to take this advice: “Learn everything you can.”


Pamela Workman, Associate Professor of Theatre, Brenau
Associate Professor of Theatre Pamela Workman

What is your role at GTA?

Pamela Workman: I’m an Associate professor of Theatre and resident costume designer of GTA. One of my favorite parts about my job is that it’s never the same. Every semester is completely different and it comes with its own highs and lows. The research for the show is different, the production team is different, the actors are different, so I’m never bored with the work. From a teaching aspect, I really enjoy seeing my students grow throughout a semester, usually starting off from a place of “I can’t do this” and gradually evolving into “I’m confident with makeup now!” which is really awesome.

What lessons have you learned this year?

Pamela Workman: People are completely different humans on the screen than they are in person. I also learned that if you have the right supportive network, you can literally get through anything, and through that experience, I’ve learned what it’s like when people step up for you, opposed to when they are going to be stagnant.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Pamela Workman: Hopefully next year we’re more streamlined. We’ve had a pseudo year back after a pandemic, and it’s taken a while to get up and running but I really want us to get back into full swing and get our audience built back up and let the let people know that GTA just took a little break, but we’re still just as determined to bring theatre to the community.

One of Pamela’s sketches for GTA’s 2019 production of Legally Blonde.

What do you do over the summer to relax?

Pamela Workman: Well, relaxing is not relaxing. I have three boys so for fun we like to go hiking or kayaking or other adventures like that, but personally I find enjoying the space around a waterfall to be really relaxing. I have also recently bought a fixer-upper, and so I spend the summer going through small to-do list goals that I can accomplish. I actually hang out with the Beckers (Terri and David) and the Morrises (Celeste and Darrell) a lot as well. We all like to get together when we can and go on excursions which is a lot of fun. I do read more over the summer. Right now I’ve started reading the Bosch novel series and it’s been nice to dive into something that’s not related to theatre because that’s what I’m always reading anyways.

What words of inspiration do you have for students?

Pamela Workman: For one thing, whether it’s on your phone or you have a physical copy, have a schedule book and fill it with everything you’ll be doing in a given week. Scheduling and prioritizing is something that I see students often have trouble with, so if you start out with just having a schedule book that you put everything in, even including your free time, it can do wonders for you. I mean, Terri and I were planning on going to the movies Sunday, and we have it on our schedules. If we don’t, we will either forget or just not do it. Our brains hold a lot of information, to the point where it can be overwhelming, but keeping an extensive record of your schedule can really help with that. It’s exhausting to have to keep a schedule book but if you want to succeed, then you kind of have to, because our brains only hold so much information. I also want students to understand that professors have their classes done in such a way because there’s a growth arc, so if you don’t do projects at the beginning of the school year, as a student you are taking away from yourself the educational process to grow to your full potential. I think that is highly important for students to understand. I personally think by not pushing yourself you’re doing yourself a disservice, and you should value yourself and value your mind enough to go out there and try. I’m not saying that you need all A’s by any means, because the world is not all A’s when you leave the institution, but take full advantage of your education because this is the best place to challenge yourself.


Elisa Carlson, Professor of Theatre, UNG
Professor of Theatre Elisa Carlson

What is your role at GTA?

Elisa Carlson: I’m a Professor of Theatre, teaching voice, speech, senior seminar and acting classes. I’m also a Resident Director for GTA and usually direct a play each season. One of my greatest joys is when a student has a breakthrough in their training and accomplishes a critical goal in their creative journey.

What lessons have you learned this year?

Elisa Carlson: I’m not sure yet, but I will say that this year I’ve experienced a lack of patience with and acceptance of myself when I’m having a difficult time. Really working on that. I think being kind to ourselves is important. Artists who spend too much time listening to their inner critic spend less time freely exploring and expressing their artistry.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Elisa Carlson: I think the GTA season is exciting and look forward to directing Pygmalion, by the great George Bernard Shaw. Shaw has been a research focus of mine for years and while I’ve coached dialects/text and acted in many of his plays this will be my first experience directing one. I can’t wait.

Elisa with playwright Topher Payne and the cast of Entertaining Lesbians

What do you do over the summer to relax?

Elisa Carlson: I love to travel, hang out with friends and family, and work in my garden.

What words of inspiration do you have for students?

Elisa Carlson: I’ve noticed that theatre-makers who calm their inner critic make room for excellence and joy. Try it and see.

 
 
 
 
 
 


Terri Becker, Senior Instructor of Theatre, UNG
Terri Becker’s Practicum class hard at work.

What is your role at GTA?

Terri Becker: I am a Senior Lecturer at University of North Georgia, and I am also the Lighting and Projections coordinator for GTA as well as the resident lighting designer.

What lessons have you learned this year?

Terri Becker: Returning from Covid is hard. There is a gap in student knowledge and a motivational gap as well. Students struggled in practicum classes and we were not even running full tilt yet. It was an experience learning how to deal with this and still get a show up on time.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Terri Becker: Knowing what I am doing. Both Brenau University and University of North Georgia are making changes at the highest level that will affect our departments. What those changes will be we can only speculate. Like with anything, change works slowly. I am not very patient so it drives me crazy!

Terri’s lighting design for GTA’s 2022 production of The Secret Garden

What do you do over the summer to relax?

Terri Becker: Try not to spend money. Just kidding! In May, I’m usually split between a sad attempt at gardening and playing the newest DLC (Downloadable Content) of Elder Scrolls Online. In June, we get a week at the beach, then in July it’s prep time for the next year. I have ADD so it is as important for me as it is for my students that I have my classes all set up and planned out before the semester begins.

What words of inspiration do you have for students?

Terri Becker: Go out to the university social events and spend face to face time with new people. It is important to practice your face-to-face social skills. Theatre is a face-to-face art, even for technicians. Also, get a hobby that takes you outside and enjoy the sun!

 

Meet GTA Graduating Seniors!

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

The spring 2022 semester is coming to a close and seniors are preparing for graduation. We spoke to seniors Maleah Boyd-Gouveia (BFA Musical Theatre), Clara Woodfield (BFA Design & Technology for Theatre), and Joshua Daughtry (Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Theatre & Philosophy) about what they have learned in their time with the program, their career prospects, and advice they have for GTA underclassmen.

Maleah Boyd-Gouveia, BFA Musical Theatre

How are you feeling about your upcoming graduation?

Maleah: I have mixed feelings! I used to be so ready to leave and get out there, but this past year I’ve made a lot of great friends and relationships. I’m going to miss seeing everyone everyday, but I’m ready to stop being a student and start being an artist!

Clara: I’m super excited! I’ve been so focused on school and nothing else for so many years now that it’s both exciting and terrifying to know that, come fall, I’m not going to have to worry about essays and class projects.

Joshua: Well, I’ve got a lot of stuff that’s definitely keeping me focused to the point where I’m not really focused on being absent in any way, shape, or form. As much as I’d love to be able to say that I set up the last couple weeks as a senior completely stress-free, I chose to not do that. Right now I’m working on Heathen Valley, which is my senior capstone, and a lot of students have very generously donated a lot of time and energy into that production and a lot of hard, hard work, so that’s been taking up a lot of my time along with other standard school final exams and projects.

How has your senior year been different than your previous years at GTA?

Maleah: 2 words: Michael Jablonksi. Not only did he quickly become my favorite professor, but a really big mentor to me. He put faith and trust in me like no one else has. He was confident in what I could do before I was. He saw so much in me that I didn’t even know I had. For the first time in all my years here, I felt seen. My growth this semester is all thanks to him, and Giovanna, my vocal teacher. I would not be anywhere close to ready for the professional world if it wasn’t for them. And I am so so so grateful that they came in my last year here, when I really needed them. I will forever hold them in my heart and in my life.

Clara: The people. I’ve both met new people and gotten to know people better this year and it has made so much of a difference in how happy I am in the program. I didn’t make that many friends my freshman year, but I’ve been putting myself out there more this year, and it has sure paid off. The GTA leadership has made a massive difference, too. I got to be Wardrobe Crew Head for The Secret Garden, directed by our lovely Dr. C (GTA Associate Artistic Director & Brenau Chair of Theatre, Dr. Tracey Brent-Chessum), and I loved getting to see the great leadership she’s shown us! GTA seems to be on a path of change from where it was my freshman year and I think it’s changing for the better (and I’m someone who hates change, so that says a lot!)

Joshua: My age! Yeah, My first year with GTA was back in 2009. So naturally, a lot of things have changed around here and in my absence, as well. I stayed for two years and took time off to get acclimated and get an understanding of other ways of the world, and I think the biggest change is how my curiosity has turned into passion. What once used to make me feel excited in a naive way is now excitement that comes from “I know what I’m doing.” I’ve also had time to become more of a patient person, which has led to a lot of close relationships with the people here.

Clara Woodfield, BFA Design & Technology for Theatre (Costumes)

What advice would you give to the “freshman you”?

Maleah: I would say, “It’s going to suck. It’s gonna be hard, I’m not gonna lie. You’re gonna want to quit, pack up, and go home. But I promise you, it will all work out at the end. If I were to tell you, you’d never believe me. Just know, you’re gonna make it. And it’ll all be worth it.

Clara: You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, not even you. If you feel more at home in the costume shop, just change your major, don’t wait until halfway through sophomore year.

Joshua: Don’t settle for anything until you’re where you feel you need to be and if you’re somewhere you feel like you shouldn’t be, learn and be friendly as much as you can while you’re there. Let yourself be known. If there’s a project that you desperately want to work on, even if you weren’t cast, do what you can to at least sit in on rehearsals because just getting in the room and being in the audience finds you that much closer to what you want to do on the stage. I’d tell him to do all that with humility as well. Everything that you take part in is never beneath you, and that’s crucial to keep in mind as an artist.

What is your biggest takeaway from being at GTA?

Maleah: Control what you can control, and what is meant to be yours, will be yours.

Clara: Do what makes you happy, honestly.

Joshua: I mean, besides the knowledge that I should check my schedule before I make plans, the ultimate takeaway is that this place is here, and that’s a blessing in itself. You can get from it what you need, as long as you know what that is.

Joshua Daugherty, BS Interdisciplinary Studies, concentrations in Theatre & Philosophy

What advice do you have for upcoming seniors?

Maleah: UTILIZE YOUR CLASS TIME!! There was a time here where classwork did not matter much. But now it does, so USE IT! The best work that I’ve ever done here was in class. I know it’s your senior year and we all want to be involved in shows. As a BFA Musical Theatre major who was never in a musical, I know how hard it is to not be involved in shows. BUT you have some great professors here who can and will guide you to where you need and want to be. All you have to do is listen, and be fearless in the room. You got this.

Clara: For the love of all things, TAKE PROGRESS PICTURES OF YOUR WORK! Take pictures of that prop you’re making, get pictures of yourself in rehearsal and backstage, take pictures of that really straight line you sewed or painted

Joshua: Don’t take classes that don’t make you want to learn and if you’re in classes that you don’t necessarily care about just find something to make the best of that. Separate from that, I truly believe that mentorship is the most important thing as a senior. Find the time to go reach out to people that you’re working on projects with and offer them your perspective. You’ll often find they’ve been itching to give theirs and you could really learn something from that. The first time I came around I didn’t ask for one, probably out of how audacious I was, but even then I had a lot of really close friends that taught me a lot of things. In coming back, I’d definitely say that I’ve been more specifically mentored by (GTA faculty) Gay Hammond, Zechariah Pierce, and Jayme McGhan and I’m forever grateful for their eagerness to help me with my passions and loves regarding theatre.

What are your after-graduation plans?

Maleah: You know the life of an actor, always auditioning. At this present moment I am still waiting on casting notices from a few summer stock theatres. I am still sending in auditions. If I don’t get booked for summer stock soon, then my plan is to go to New York right after graduation to stay with my high school best friends and go on all of the open call auditions I can. And then depending on that, my wife and I will either head straight to New York, or they will stay and work their interior design job in Atlanta while I’m booked at summer stock. And THEN we’ll go to New York! OH, and we’re celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary May 22nd!

Clara: I’m planning on moving to Kentucky with one of my best friends to pursue sewing somewhere that’s not as hot as Georgia and has more consistent weather.

Joshua: I relax with work that I like, because I’m a psychopath. You know, I have a couple of really great, fresh paperback spines that I am ready to break open, right? Eager to keep learning. This summer for me is not going to be a break from what I’ve been doing. It’s going to be a deeper dive into what I’m trying to get at from what I’ve been doing. So you know, I’ve been working for a couple tech internships and been hunting for jobs around the area and just continuing the hunger for producing more art. I think that one thing we’ve all learned after the pandemic is if we didn’t have art through the worst times in our life, it would just be a wild tangled ferment of darkness and sorrow waiting in the absence of life. To combat that I’m on a constant mission of feeding my soul, heart and mind.

Any last words you want to leave for us?

Maleah: Don’t be shocked when your playbill mentions me!

Clara: Thank you all so much for your support this year! I have so loved my time at GTA.

Joshua: For one thing, check out Heathen Valley, coming up on April 29th. That’s going to be a lot of fun. But I’d also say to never be shy about asking someone to let you into their life. And when somebody does let you into their life, I think you should let them know that that’s important to you. I like to live my life openly and for all, from any background, and it’s done wonders for me.

Be sure to check out Joshua Daughtry’s senior capstone, Heathen Valley by Romulus Linney, playing in UNG-Gainesville’s Ed Cabell Theatre April 29 at 7:30pm. Tickets on sale now!

Upcoming Graduate to Perform at Woodstock Playhouse

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

Senior BFA Musical Theatre major Allie Hill is jumping into the theatre industry head-first this summer at the Woodstock Playhouse Summer Theatre Festival. Woodstock Playhouse is a celebrated site of American Theatre history, established in 1938 as one of the first rural extensions of Broadway and is a popular theatre on the summer stock circuit. Prominent actors and actresses have graced the stage at Woodstock, including Larry Hagman, Anne Meara, Peter Boyle, and Diane Keaton.

Allie will be originating a role in Gatsby: The New American Musical, which will get a staged reading during Woodstock’s summer festival. GTA audiences will remember Allie from her performances as Judy in 9 to 5, Martha in The Secret Garden, and Wallace in Living Out. We sat down with Allie to talk about the exciting opportunities she has coming up and how GTA has prepared her for her future in theatre.

BFA Musical Theatre major Allie Hill

How did you get cast at Woodstock Playhouse?

I auditioned for the A1 Conference back in January, and I got a callback for Woodstock through that. For the callback, I sang sides for certain shows in their season and sent them a vocal reel and a dance reel. They contacted me again and I had a phone interview. I got the offer around the middle of February.

What was it like auditioning at the A1 Conference? 

Well, it was virtual, so self-taping central. Funnily enough, I usually wear sweatpants or pajama pants or running shorts when I film, but I made myself put on a whole outfit, like shoes and everything just to make myself feel like I was really there and in person, which I think really helped. I actually had Covid when I first filmed my auditions, so I like to think that even Covid couldn’t stop me from getting the part. I was inside my house quarantining and drinking lots of fluid and trying to belt to this guy, but it all worked out in the end.

Tell us about the summer festival.

The festival runs from June 10 to August 21, and includes Footloose, Beauty and the Beast, Noises Off, Cabaret, and Gatsby. Gatsby is a new musical being adapted there, and I’m principally contracted under that show. I will be in the ensemble of all the other musicals and I have the opportunity to audition for Noises Off once I get there.

Allie Hill as Judy in 9 to 5

Are you excited to work on a new musical?

It’s really exciting to originate a role, but it’s also a little daunting to think about There’s all the music, all the lines, elements of a new show that people don’t really think of. But it’s also really exciting and creatively liberating to think about how I get to interpret it and not have any preconceived notions get in the way of that. Obviously I can consult my peanut gallery of friends and professors, but ultimately I get to make my own choices which is really freeing, especially considering the risks of imposter syndrome so it’s really nice to be able to do my own thing.

That’s a lot of shows in a short amount of time! What is the schedule like?

It is a lot. On one hand, we have to learn Footloose in nine days—it’s nine 10-out-of-12 rehearsals and then we open. On the other hand, the rush of theater is intoxicating. I want to eat musical theater for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day anyways, so I’m really grateful and excited to be a part of shows I love.

How has GTA prepared you for life after graduation?

I’m very grateful for all of GTA. I think this place is great, but the Audition Technique class with Michael Jablonski has really helped me learn how much work you need to do before bringing in a song or a monologue or even a side to an audition or callback. In class, we review three different sectors of analysis for a song, and the one that really helps me with the music analysis is where we look at the more technical elements in music, such as time signatures and verbiage, and how it kind of tells you how to act out a song. Growing up as someone who was primarily a singer I had in my head that I just have to sing what’s written and sing it correctly, but it’s really about your acting more than anything. It’s crazy actually, everything is literally laid out in front of you textually and musically and it’s up to you to decide how to interpret what you’re analyzing.

What is your advice for upcoming GTA students?

It’s cliche, but truly you’ve got to show up, be kind, and be thankful. I feel like we all sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it is our right to perform when it is an absolute privilege. Opening night could also be closing night, and we never know the last time we’re gonna be able to perform, so take every single opportunity as a gift. I think the passion speaks for itself, so, if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, you’re gonna get there. That’s the attitude you have to bring to all the auditions you’ll be doing.

Do you have final thoughts about your time with GTA?

Not to make myself a tree and be sappy, but I am so grateful for GTA and all my friends and professors who have really poured into me and made sure that I was taking care of myself while also taking care of my art. It’s really important to me—I’m really going to miss it here. I’m excited to go to Woodstock but I’m not excited to leave the people I’ve created bonds with over the years. Still though, I am very thankful.

Get to Know Seniors from The Secret Garden

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

On the opening weekend of The Secret Garden, we had the pleasure of speaking with seniors Alexis Trammell, Devin LaPointe, and Eric Nabeth about their experience with this final show of the season and their last semester in college.

Alexis Trammell is a BFA Musical Theatre major and is playing Mrs. Winthrop in The Secret Garden, and is the understudy for Mrs. Medlock.

Tell us about your role in the show?

I’m part of the cast that starts out as the Dreamers. We become ghosts and we haunt the mansion. Then, I am Mrs. Winthrop later on in Act 2, who’s the headmistress, and she has her moment to shine because she’s trying to get married.

What’s your approach to play multiple roles?

It’s pretty simple for me because I’m a Dreamer for all of Act One, so I only have to focus on that role, and then Mrs. Winthrop for Act Two. Then, I go back to being a dreamer for the finale, so it’s actually not really that hard for me to go back and forth from character to character. For most of Act One, we’re just trying to scare Mary and we’re just kind of living our lives as ghosts. Well, I guess technically not living but, we really just get to float around and do our things. So it’s pretty simple. It’s a lot of fun.

What has the rehearsal process been like?

As we were doing the read-through Dr. Tracey gave us our blocking to speed up the process, then we had music with Paul (musical director, Paul Tate), and then we started putting the blocking and the music together. Hearing the songs so much, you pretty much catch on because we record it and listen to it all the time. Most of the songs I hadn’t even heard before, but I’m a really fast learner, especially when it comes to music.

How do you approach ensemble acting in a musical?

As the Dreamers, we had to figure out who we were before we died. Most of us are married in the show so we had questions to answer: What was our life like as a couple? Did we hate each other? Are we happy? In those moments, we’re supposed to be telling a story even though we’re completely still; while the principles are doing their thing. We have to figure out what story we are telling. Marcello Valencia is my partner and we decided that in the moment we go up the stairs, I’m losing my child. That story creates our still moment when we’re up on the platform. It’s things like that, just figuring out who I am and what my story is as a Dreamer, and how do I show that to the audience without taking away from the principal actor’s performance.

What’s your favorite part of the show?

I would say the song “Lily’s Eyes.” That’s Eric Nabeth and Sammy Nelson’s duet, and they sound absolutely beautiful. I just love being on stage getting to hear them sing it every night because I’ve always loved that song. I also love Savion Gates’ song, “Winter’s on the Wing,” because he’s just incredible and I cannot wait for everyone to see him. I’m a sucker for males that can sing! I feel like most of the recent GTA musicals have had female leads, so I’m glad that the guys get to have their time to shine. We have some really beautiful voices in GTA.

What should people expect from The Secret Garden?

The show challenges your sense of curiosity and imagination. I feel like the audience will be just like Mary, curious to see what the garden is and why it’s a secret. That’s just sort of who Mary is, she’s a child and she’s very curious. Most of us are. It’s not necessarily a feel-good musical but there are things to be happy about. So prepare to feel all kinds of different emotions throughout the show.

What’s it like being a senior?

Very stressful, to say the least. It just doesn’t feel real. It’s kind of weird, I definitely don’t feel like a senior, but graduation is getting so close now, so that’s really strange. It’s really stressful trying to figure out what you’re gonna do, like auditioning and marketing yourself to get booked, but it’s nice that we have faculty members with contacts and things like that so I’m not completely in the dark.

How have you grown as an artist in your time with Gainesville Theatre Alliance?

Just staying true to myself. I used to be scared when my professors or directors asked me about my character, because I felt like they wanted a specific answer, and if I didn’t give them that answer, then I was a failure or they were gonna think less of me. But since I’ve been in the program, I’ve discovered there’s not always a correct answer. Professors and directors really just want to pick your brain and figure out what you’re thinking, so they can share with you what they’re thinking and then you can collaborate. Before GTA I treated those questions like it was some sort of quiz and I got really nervous that I might give them the wrong answer. My confidence has definitely increased since freshman year. I still don’t have as much as I would like to have, but I’ve definitely grown a lot, especially when it comes to being confident in my responses and what I’ve discovered about a particular part that I’m playing. I’m more confident in sharing that with people and showing them how the research I’ve done affects my performance on stage.

 

Devin LaPointe is a BFA Design & Technology for Theatre major and is the the Assistant Scenic Designer for The Secret Garden.

What are your responsibilities as Assistant Scenic Designer?

I worked with our Scenic Designer, guest artist Dennis Maulden, on the creation and realization of our set. I got to create a digital Vectorworks model for the shop and a foam model for the director. I also sourced and edited the images for the doilies that hang at the top of the set.

What is your favorite part of the show?

I love how the lights make the set come to life.

What are you looking forward to most after graduation?

I’m looking forward to using my skills in a professional environment and studying more about set design.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself in GTA, both as an artist and a person?

GTA has taught me how to be more confident as a learner, as a leader, and as a creator. I’m grateful that GTA has let me put my hands into as many mediums as possible. I’ve learned to embrace being a “jack of all trades.”

 

Eric Nabeth is a BA Theatre major and plays Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden.

How did you approach the role of Archie Craven?

This role has been one of my most challenging roles to fulfill so far at GTA. I always approach a role by finding something within the character that speaks to me the most in an honest and vulnerable way. This acts as the bridge that connects the character and me. The more things I fall in love with within the character, the more I can present myself through that character in the most honest way possible. Otherwise, I would be just speaking words and standing with no purpose. Once that purpose is found and channeled, it’s up to my presence and the given moment within the scene to take the audience on the journey that is my character within the show.

What has the rehearsal process been like?

The rehearsal process has been extremely enriching. My style of finding a character is always on the organic side. I believe it is the actor’s job to provide the gift of their individuality and creativity that drives the scene forward. The character is based on how well I did my homework and script analysis of the work, which is always a must. That mindset and attitude has been reflected in this rehearsal process quite nicely and the room is very open to the foundation of the work of the actor.

What do you love most about this show?

Its honesty and absolute beauty. It’s truly one of my favorite musicals of all time and is a strong love letter to the more classical style of musical theater. This show is truly a must see!

GTA Student Makes Professional Debut

By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez

Emmanuel Cologne is a senior BA Theatre major who recently made his professional debut as Paul in A Chorus Line at City Springs Theatre Company. We spoke to Emmanuel about the audition process, rehearsal process, and what learned from this experience.

Emmanuel Cologne
BA Theatre major

What was the audition process like?

It started all the way back in October 2021 with an open call video submission to City Springs. I sent it in mid- to late-October, and I didn’t hear anything for a while. I saw that they were having the Atlanta callbacks the first week of December, and I hadn’t gotten called back at all for that. I was like, “well, that’s that’s weird,” but I remembered that on the sign-up sheet, there was a place to check if you’re a local, and I was like, “well, I live an hour away, so I guess I’m technically not a local,” so that was a stupid mistake. Essentially, I didn’t find out I got called back for the show until maybe a day or two after New Years. I got the email and I was like, “oh my god, I have to go to New York City!” That was a big thing, that the callbacks were in New York City, and I had no idea that they were in New York.

I called my dad and said, “Hi Dad, Can you loan me some money for a plane ticket?” and he did, so I just dropped everything. I went to New York, had my first professional callback experience at Ripley Greer Studios in New York City. You look out the window of the studio, and the Empire State Building is right there. Turn a couple blocks past Times Square, and you’re in the theater district. It was just really surreal for me to be there.

I arrived in New York a day before and then I prepped everything for the next morning. I go in to the audition and a lot of people who already know each other are there and I’m the only one that’s like, “I literally don’t know anybody here right now.” It’s my first time ever “breaking out into the industry.” So I sign in, I warm up and then we go into the dance call and there’s Baayork Lee with her four-foot-ten self just standing there ready and excited to teach us the opening combination and the ballet combination. I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t care what happens at this point. I’m just really excited to be here.”

We learn the opening and she works us to the bone. We do it over and over and over and it’s in this very encouraging environment. It was very exciting. That’s the first round and then they ask you to stay and sing. So I dance my heart out, did everything and we eventually had to do groups of two. We go to the holding room and we wait to see if they want us to sing for them. I got called back to sing and I said, “Oh great, made it pass the first round!” That’s fantastic. That’s what everybody wants. I went in and sang and it went great. After that, I just let it go. I said, “Whatever happens, happens.” Later, I got the email that I got called back for the role of Paul San Marco. I was like, “Well, this is everything that I wanted fully. Holy crap.”

Emmanuel as Paul in A Chorus Line (Ben Rose Photography)

So I get prepped with the sides, the whole monologue, the song, everything. I go in the next day, I’m not called until like five o’clock. Mind you, my flight is at like 7:30-7:45pm. I go in and they see us—it was me and two other guys called back for Paul. We go in one by one. We do the song, the monologue, everything. I thought it went okay, I did what I could do. I was really nervous because when Baayork was right there and you’re doing this iconic piece, you’re freaking out.

I ran all the way through midtown Manhattan to get to the airport. I didn’t hear for two days and then I got the call that I had gotten a part as a swing and understudy for Paul, Mark, and Larry. I was like, “Oh great, I’m in the show!” I get to be in the opening and I get to understudy three principal roles. Then, a week later, I got a call and they asked me if I would like to take on the role of Paul. Like, are you kidding me? Yes! Oh my god. It was crazy. I was freaking out, I had my dream role.

I was so nervous about the process. You get what you’ve been asking for for such a long time, but now I’m having this huge case of imposter syndrome because I’m gonna be in a room full of people who’ve been in Broadway shows and they’ve been in national tours. They’ve done the thing. I’m this random guy from Gainesville, Georgia, who’s never done anything like this before. I’ve been wanting it for a long time, particularly this show. I’m prepping mentally and everything. Then we have the first day rehearsal and I’m so, so nervous. But everyone was really nice and welcoming and I just ease myself into the process.

What an incredible story! How did you celebrate your achievement?

Well, when I initially got the swing understudy contract, I remember I was at Allie Hill’s apartment with Grace Deedrick and Abby Hand (all GTA students) and we did a toast and it was cute! But then when I got the call that I got Paul, I was in the car. I was in the parking lot of the Hosch and the first person I tried to call was my mom but she was at work, so she didn’t answer. I called Allie Hill and I said I got Paul! She was on her way to go to Michael Jablonski’s tap class and she went to the Hosch saying, “Where are you? We’re gonna go tell Michael!” So we ran to Michael’s class and I was like, I got the part! Then I took the tap class.

Emmanuel as Paul in A Chorus Line (Mason Wood Photography)

How was the rehearsal process different from your classes or being in shows with GTA?

I would say that GTA prepares you for professional setting. However, these were very professional people that were on top of their game. The good thing is that Baayork allowed us room to make mistakes. She really made it clear that this is rehearsal, and it’s okay to make choices. If you make a mistake, you’re in rehearsal for a reason. There was this huge sense of professionalism that was really inspiring and really motivating. It made you really want to step up your game every time you were in rehearsal. But of course, we’re still theatre people. During our breaks we joke around, laugh, talk. It wasn’t all super serious.

How long was the rehearsal process?

It was a really, really quick rehearsal process. I think we had maybe three or four weeks until we went into the theatre. It was super quick to get all the material in. It was really nice because we learned everything and then we had time to clean everything up.

Did you feel that GTA prepared you to work professionally?

I felt pretty prepared. The only thing that was in the way for me was just those nerves and imposter syndrome. But, once you get through those hard days, I realized I do belong here and once you get through that and you do the work and you do all the preparation. I feel like GTA, and the faculty especially, really prepared me to carry myself as a professional versus just a student.

Emmanuel as Paul in A Chorus Line (Mason Wood Photography)

What have you learned from this experience?

I wanted this role for the longest time and I resonate so much with a role like this. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, I was very vulnerable. I’m on stage by myself for like 10 minutes, and it feels like centuries, in one of the few moments in the show where it’s complete silence and it’s just me speaking. I learned how to be very vulnerable and very okay with flooding my emotions out to thousands of people and being comfortable with that. I’m sure there will be roles in the future where I will have moments of, “Should I even be doing this?” But I think now I feel very confident going out there and getting what I want in terms of auditioning and just pounding the pavement. Of course, there’s always still gonna be those nerves, right? For an audition, they’re always will be. But I feel very confident and where I’m going in life in terms of being an artist.

Do you have any advice for your fellow students who are looking to work professionally?

I think one thing this experience has taught me is to trust your gut. If you have that burning feeling inside of you that there’s something that you want to do and there’s something you want to pursue, it’s possible. Just remember that you have to be your biggest advocate, and no one’s gonna put in the work but you. You need to go into the studio, go into the practice room, and use all the resources that we have on campus. Read books about theatre, engulf yourself in what you love to do. Do the work and great things will happen. Talent is great, but it’s not enough. Once you go out there into the real world, talent is the bare minimum. Many people are talented. But are you a hard worker? Can you put in that work? Are you a nice person? Are you kind and get along with people? That’s what matters. Just stay inspired. Keep going.