Chatting with Laurie Walton – her thoughts on performing, directing and the upcoming season…
You were away this summer performing in Nunsense, how was the show?
It was amazing to be back on stage again; especially singing and dancing. My life pre-Riverdale Rising Stars was consumed with auditioning and hoping to be cast in shows. Happily for me I was able to spend a good many years doing so. This was a reminder of the passion I have always had as an actor and a reminder that my feelings about the joy of being on a stage are, in fact, valid. And now, once again, I can speak first-hand about it to the people (both young and old) who participate in my programs.
Does running and directing in RRS help you when you are acting professionally?
In fact, it helps tremendously. The minute I stop feeling badly that I am not the boss (!) I am able to recognize the importance of a director and a well-organized rehearsal period. And it gives me a deeper understanding of the challenges that face all actors (memorization, character development, etc.) regardless of age, experience, professional, amateur, etc. It all applies.
What are you most excited for in the upcoming season?
I am excited to look ahead with a renewed respect for the art of acting. I have always loved directing and teaching. But most of my life was spent on the other side of the table. Now that I had a little taste of the spotlight again, I am excited to share my renewed enthusiasm with our participants AND our audiences.
In terms of the program, I am thrilled as we enter a new RPAC season as I believe that there is great merit in teaching. And I am always excited to watch the growth of the children and the teens AND the adults as they embrace their productions this season.
How do you choose a season for so many people? Isn’t it hard?
It’s horrible. Many Directors (and I fear the smarter ones) simply select shows that they love and let the chips fall where they may. I spent countless hours, days, weeks selecting what feels like just the right show for a particular group.
How do you choose which shows you want to direct?
It varies. This year I decided to direct the Jr. production of Oklahoma simply because I know the show inside and out and I love it. I performed in it as a professional actor four times (always the same role) and it was my very first “starring” high school role as well. I have since directed it twice with teens. We have an incredibly gifted group of young actors and I felt that they would enjoy the challenges that putting on a classic musical would bring to them.
I always direct the Rising Stars. Rising Stars it what started it all for me and I can’t seem to walk away. And I have a new-ish investment in the adult company, Riverdale Rep, because I have seen enormous growth in the adults over the past 3 years. I have not yet been ready to turn this group over to someone else…though that day is near!
You have a lot of Jr’s graduating into RRS Teen this year. How does that feel?
Oh gosh. Watching the 12 year olds sing “What I Did For Love” at the teen auditions was incredibly moving for me. Their excitement at coming up to the “big leagues” is infectious. These kids are the future. In their hands the Rising Stars programming will continue to grow and thrive.
Have to ask this – did you miss us?!?!
I absolutely did. It was nice to not have the daily worries but I did not stop thinking about Rising Stars for one moment . I never do. The children and the adults are in my heart no matter where I go! It’s far more than a job to me. It has been my life for over a decade.. You just can’t walk away from that!!