MOLL: Behind the Scenes Blog 1

Submitted by Ethan Chapman ('17) on 11/3/2017

My name is Ethan Chapman, and I have the honour of introducing the cast of the world premiere of Moll, and the soon to be graduating class of December 2017.

We met each other for the first time on January 3, 2016. We walked into the Annex Theatre one by one, each of us carrying a lot of excitement, curiosity, and of course our book bags and dance shoes. It didn’t take long for us to start talking and getting to know one another. Talking eventually evolved into laughter, and as I looked around the theatre, I witnessed the beginnings of beautiful friendships. We discovered where each other came from, where we are now and where we thought we’d be going, each of us with incredibly skewed ideas of how the next two years would play out. This day marked the beginning of an incredible two-year journey. We would soon face seemingly impossible challenges, push our minds and bodies to the limit and take risks that would seem insane to the average joe.

We have spent term after term working with industry professionals to develop better dance, acting and singing technique. We’ve risen above all challenges thrown at us and have gone through blood, sweat and tears to prove to ourselves that we are meant to be in this industry. None of this progress would have been possible without our esteemed educators, who have given 100% of their time and energy to ensuring that we have every tool we need. I speak on behalf of my class when I say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for doing what you do every day, and with such fire and passion.

2017 not only marks Canada’s 150th, but is also the 25th anniversary of Randolph College for the Performing Arts. The college hosted a gala in honour of this anniversary, where students past and present as well as supporting members of the industry performed in honour of the school's achievements. One of the focuses of this event was to highlight 25 years of breakthrough moments, so in consideration of that I’d like to share two years’ worth of breakthrough moments from a few of my classmates:

“I first found out I was accepted to Randolph four days after my mother’s sudden passing. While I understood it would be hard to move forward without her, I knew it was what she would want me to do. Each term I’ve faced moments and worked with material that reminded me so strongly of my mother. Through these moments I’ve learned how to access my emotions, share genuinely and pay tribute to a remarkable woman in unique ways. When it came time to choose material for our Fourth Term Juries, I told myself I was not going to do anything that reminded me of my mom. Juries were going to be a big deal, and I definitely didn’t want to become an emotional mess in front of our panel. Over the course of the term it became clear to me that my mother was quite determined to be in that room with me, whether I wanted her there or not. I finally caved to my initial instinct and decided to put forward a song that really touched my heart and felt like a direct communication with her. Working on this song, singing it over and over again, allowed me to have a new understanding about my emotions, my acting, and my relationship with the woman who raised me. It now brings me great joy to sing this song and honour her.” -Andrea

“I started my training at Randolph as a “dancer first”, and I always thought of myself as a dancer who could sing, and who was learning to act. For a while, I was unsure whether this was the right path for me, whether I would be making a difference with my work, and I couldn’t figure out why. A year into my training, I had a conversation with a teacher whom I deeply respect. She asked me what I would call myself and I replied “I’m a dancer.” She then told me that I needed to take myself seriously as a singer and actor, because I am actually both of those things. She opened my eyes to my own worth, and made me sincerely believe in myself. I realized that I was scared of fully throwing myself into the work, because I was disregarding my ability and any feelings of pride I had. After that conversation I started to gain confidence and respect for myself as an artist.” -Maggie

“’You are the music’ is a phrase that has kept me inspired and determined to delve deeper into creating, embodying and empathizing with all of my characters.” -Krystle

“I entered the program as a smoker, and had been for about 2 years. As I have been a dancer throughout my life, I understood completely the health ailments and hundreds of other medical issues that can manifest from smoking. Smoking would reverse any progress I would make as a performer. By 2nd term, I knew in the back of my mind that I had smoked long enough and that it needed to end. This was the most difficult term at Randolph in my experience. Lecture classes, assignments, dance assessments, monologues, scenes, a student-run dance show, and a musical theatre history performance, all in the course of 10 weeks. I was at school 6 days a week for up to 10 hours a day, and was having a lot of family trouble during this time – the stress levels were high. One Saturday, about mid-way through the term, we were having an all-day rehearsal for our Dance History presentation. I went outside during break, and for some reason tasted and smelled my cigarette so much more than I ever had in the past – I felt as though I was midst a very conscious action, while as before smoking was more subconscious and went unnoticed. I realized that this habit had found its way into my everyday schedule, which consisted of hours of singing and dancing – demanding me to be fully focused and present, emotionally and physically. It suddenly made no sense to me. I put out the cigarette and decided to quit. From that day on I was able to sing songs I never thought I could, and carry on each day feeling healthy, in control, and as the best performer I could ever be.” -Madison

“About 2 months ago, I had a breakthrough moment and I realized a heck of a lot about what the past 2 years has taught me. When I entered Randolph, I put up a wall. I didn't want people to know who I really was because I wanted to avoid judgement and I wanted to make friends. But it affected me from doing the work because I couldn't connect with my body. It would express things I couldn't feel and vice versa. This wall disconnected me from getting in touch with my emotions. It prevented me from even crying. I tried too hard to make friends in all of this and I wanted so badly for people to like me but I felt very isolated through a lot of my journey here. I recently cried for the first time in almost a year. In doing so, I realized that I don't need anybody to love me more on this journey, than me. I've been doing a heck of a lot on my own, several auditions, callbacks, booking gigs, etc. Yes it's always nice to have friends to hang out with, but it's also nice to respect yourself enough to be able to be true to who you are, and to trust that that's enough. I want to live out loud and be who I am free of judgement and just be me. I realized that each new journey I go on I get to meet new people and start off clean slate. I walk into the audition room by myself and own the space and be present. I got my first professional gig this summer doing an original musical and that's where I really felt at home, doing what I love and just being me!” -Riana

We’ve done the work, we’ve put in the hours, and now it’s time to take what we’ve learned to the stage in what will be the world premiere of an original Canadian musical, Moll, by written by some of Canada’s top creative talent -- music and lyrics by Leslie Arden; book by Leslie Arden and Cathy Elliott with Anna Theresa Cascio -- and directed by the RCPA’s artistic director Tamara Bernier Evans.