The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 22, 2013

Workshops will help budding actors nail auditions


EBENSBURG — Young actors will get the instruction they need to ace their next audition during a five-part acting workshop.

“How to Nail the Audition,” a winter workshop for student actors, will be held on Saturday and every Saturday in February at Cresson Lake Playhouse rehearsal hall, 526 W. Ogle St., Ebensburg.

Marina Johnson, Cresson Lake’s artistic coordinator and a director and teacher at Altoona Area High School, said the workshop came into being because parents of young

actors who had been in the theater’s children’s production requested it.

“They said they saw their children’s personalities develop through the children’s theater production,” Johnson said.

“I thought, ‘This is real, so let’s make this happen.’ ”

Classes will be in session from 10 a.m. to noon.

The interactive workshops are constructed to help actors ages 8-18 understand the audition process and develop and hone their audition techniques.

Workshop topics will be Cold Reads, Singing Auditions, They Want Me to Dance?, Overcoming Stage Fright and How to Take Direction.

There also will be mock auditions intended to synthesize everything the participants have learned.

Lessons will be taught with all ages together in one group.

“It will need to be a challenge for the 18-year-olds and not be overwhelming for the 8-year-olds,” Johnson said. “Instruction will be offered for actors of different ages at their level.”

In her role teaching English and theater at Altoona Area, as well as directing the fall play and spring musical, Johnson has experience with students in different age ranges and asked them for ideas on session topics.

“I asked my students to give me input, what makes them nervous,” Johnson said. “One student said, ‘What are you looking for? Should I be myself?’ ”

Other instructors will be Jonathan O’Harrow, Cresson Lake’s music director; Holly Smith, Cresson Lake’s dance and choreography instructor; and Rob Bergenstock, artistic designer for Blair County Arts Foundation.

Johnson will be at every session except one, when she goes to Chicago for an audition.

O’Harrow will serve as pianist, and Smith will attend several sessions as a dancer.

“We’re going to have people who excel in one area share their experiences,” Johnson said. “If the students hear something from more than one person, the truth will prevail.”

Johnson has been artistic coordinator and director at Cresson Lake for less than a year, but she has acted in shows there since she was 15.

“I have a connection to the barn,” she said. “Now I get to make theater for those just starting out like I was.”

Johnson said an ideal class size would be no more than 20 students for personalized, individual attention, but she doesn’t want to turn anyone away.

“At the high school, I have a class with 30 kids, which is a challenge, but I make it work.”

Workshop sessions will finish in time for auditions for “The Little Mermaid,” Cresson Lake’s children’s theater performance, which will be held within the first two weeks of March.

“I’m hoping they will want to audition for the children’s theater,” Johnson said. “They will be given confidence and enthusiasm from the workshop.”

She said that older students might be more comfortable auditioning for upcoming shows in Cresson Lake’s new season, which will include “The Fantasticks,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Aida,” “The Mousetrap,” “Spamalot” and “A Christmas Story.”

The last day to register for the workshop is Thursday, and space is limited.

The workshop sessions will cost $50 per student.

On cue

What: “How to Nail the Audition,” winter workshop for student actors.

When: Saturday and every Saturday in February.

Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse rehearsal hall, 526 W. Ogle St., Ebensburg.

Cost: $50 per student.

Information: 472-4333 or

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