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Workshop shines spotlight on young actors

BY KATIE PAXTON kpaxton@paducahsun.com

Aspiring young thespians are hitting the Four Rivers Carson Center stage this week as a part of Broadway Workshop, a five-day musical theater camp taught by experienced performers from New York City.

Youth from ages 9 to 18 sing, dance and perform scenes from hit shows dominating Broadway - such as "Newsies," "Matilda" and "Rock of Ages" - while gaining experiences similar to what they might find in the Big Apple.

In its third year, Broadway Workshop focuses on multiple aspects of musical theater and performance with sessions on acting, dance, dialect, vocal technique, improvisation, stage combat, makeup, and performance for film and television, all within a 30-hour week.

Mary Katz, education director at the Carson Center, describes the program as intensive and hard work for kids who are serious about pursuing musical theater.

"These kids work really hard and come home exhausted, but they're very excited about what they're doing," said Katz. "Whether they want to audition locally at Market House Theatre or go to New York City, (this workshop) offers the experience of auditioning in New York and how to make it in this business."

Though it may seem intense, she continued, "there's a variety of talent." The workshop is an opportunity for kids who want to improve their training, as well as for those who have never been on stage.

Marc Tumminelli, director of the Broadway Workshop, hopes to provide a genuine Broadway training process to young, aspiring actors, no matter what their experience may be.

"I started a program that would've been a dream of mine as a kid," he said. "I wanted to be able to create a space for the dreams of Broadway, and it's really special to have here. There are kids who have never seen a Broadway show or the Carson Center, so it's a way to welcome the community."

In addition to Tumminelli's experience in acting and teaching theatre, three other instructors boast impressive biographies in musical theatre.

For students like 11-year-old Laura Walker of Paducah, the instructors are inspiring.

"I want to be on stage and on Broadway; they've been there,"she said.

Trey Baker, 16, of Paducah, who hopes to pursue musical theater in college, agreed.

"We have four people who have been on Broadway (teaching the program). They have insights on auditions and what you need to succeed."

Local instructors include J. Thomas Kidd of SIU's Drama Department, April Cochran of Market House Theatre and the Paducah Improv group. 

A student showcase for friends and family will be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Carson Center.

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