Week One

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Christopher Castanho, Acting Apprentice ’17

It has been just over one week since I’ve arrived in Roanoke, VA for my apprenticeship at Mill Mountain Theatre, and although it feels like it’s been so much longer than that, it’s in the best way. The friendships I’ve forged, lessons I’ve learned, and stories I’ve told have been in surplus amount, and I couldn’t be more thankful for my time spent here so far.

I’m Christopher, by the way. I’m 22 and just graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory with my BFA in Musical Theatre. As part of my apprenticeship with Mill Mountain I’ve been contracted to perform in their touring production of The Jungle Book as ‘Chil – The Kite’ and other jungle animals, in addition to playing ‘Leaf Coneybear’ in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The program also has a teacher training component where we learn how to communicate theatre games, and work with students of all ages. As part of that educational training we receive masterclasses in different acting techniques throughout our time as well.

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Director Travis Kendrick with Apprentice Lizzy Hinton

In this first week alone we:

  • Read through “The Jungle Book”
  • Blocked the whole show/had a stumble through of “The Jungle Book”
  • Learned all of the music to “Spelling Bee” and had a read/sing through
  • Had three masterclasses on Viewpoints, Physical Theatre, and Acting for the Camera
  • AND got ice cream!

It’s been a whirlwind! There are 9 apprentices total – one stage management apprentice, one sound design apprentice, and seven acting apprentices. We all live on the same floor in the Theater’s housing building, and share a huge kitchen, spacious living room, and open community dining area.

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I can honestly say that working on these two shows has been incredibly exciting and artistically enriching thus far. I definitely sought out the audition for this program because of Spelling Bee as I’ve played Coneybear before and LOVE performing that show. But it’s been a pleasant surprise how deep and layered our production of The Jungle Book is, and how much fun I’m having. Children’s theatre tends to have the stigma of being very one dimensional, but our show has so many different thematic components, as well as it being a very physical and imaginative piece of theatre.

I think you’ll be hearing from me again later this summer, but be sure to follow me on social media in order to see my point of view throughout these next six weeks: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my website.

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