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!