• Meet Nick Slimmer: Theatre Conservatory and AIP Alumnus Returns in a Dual Role for "Seussical"

    Beth Fhaner
     | Jul 16, 2018
    Nick Slimmer

    Nick Slimmer

    Nick Slimmer has been a familiar face around SCR since 2006, the year he began his official theatre education as a student in the Summer Acting Workshop. A graduate of the Theatre Conservatory and the Acting Intensive Program (AIP), he has appeared onstage at SCR in roles ranging from Peter Pan to A Christmas Carol to Tartuffe and many others. In addition to his work as an ​education assistant in the Theatre Conservatory, Slimmer stars on the small screen as oceanographer “Will” in YouTube’s web series, “Life as a Mermaid.” Slimmer will soon be back onstage at SCR with the Summer Players’ production of Seussical. Learn more about this multi-talented, professional artist in our Q&A.

    You played the Cat in the Hat in the 2012 production of Seussical. What were some of your favorite memories regarding that production?
    I loved playing the Cat. That was such a fun role and very challenging one as well. You get to create not just one, but multiple characters that influence the story. I think my favorite part was creating different characteristics for all of the Cat’s different “personas.” As well as working with an amazing cast and crew, of course!

    What roles will you play in this summer’s Seussical production?
    This summer I play two characters, Yertl the Turtle and General Genghis Kahn Schmitz. As we dive deeper into the rehearsal process, I’ve been trying to get a sense of these two characters. In some ways, they are very similar—they are both men, or turtles, in power with a lot of weight on their shoulders. However, their personalities, speech patterns and temperament are quite different. It’s fun to find both of their places in the story and getting to play a crucial role in both Horton and JoJo’s stories.

    What have you learned as an actor since the 2012 production?
    I think the main difference between 2012 and 2018 is my confidence as an actor. Telling stories honestly and creating real people who tell their story on stage has become very important to me. It’s not that I didn’t strive for that back then; I’ve just gotten more training on how to live in the moment, both here at SCR and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

    As an alumus of SCR’s Theatre Conservatory and the AIP program, how did this instruction prepare you for life as a professional actor?
    South Coast Repertory prepares you for the “real world” in so many ways. I think the most important is how to act in a professional capacity. Hisa Takakuwa, director, and Erin McNally, ​musical director, are professional artists and expect the same from you. This rings true from everyone at SCR. All of the instructors instill confidence in you while pushing you to become the best artist and person you can be.

    You currently star as Will in YouTube’s hit series “Life as a Mermaid.” Tell us about that experience.
    I’ve been a part of the “Life as a Mermaid” family for more than three years now and that’s exactly what it is—a family. The series is focused on Madison the Mermaid and her sister, Valerie the Mermaid, trying to navigate through the human world. They make friends, and a little trouble, along the way including my character, Will. Will is an oceanographer with a passion for his work and little else. He doesn’t have much interest in friends or family, but that’s only where he starts his journey—you’ll have to watch to see where he ends up! All in all, it’s been a wonderful experience with a brilliant team; I’ve loved every second of it. (Check out “Life as a Mermaid”)

    What are your future plans as an actor? Also, do you teach acting?
    My plans are to keep working and keep learning. An actor’s job is never done. I will be teaching this summer in ​SCR's Summer Acting Workshop as an Improvisation guest lecturer. Besides that, I will be continuing to keep looking for and making stories worth telling.

    What can audiences expect when they come to see the musical Seussical?
    I think something that separates our production from other productions of Seussical you may have seen is the honesty and life we are bringing to this story. It is a fun, vibrant story, but these are still people. They have lessons to teach us. It’s not all about the fun dance numbers and goofy Generals, even though those are important; it’s how these characters live and what they learn.

    Any final thoughts about SCR’s Theatre Conservatory and the Players’ productions?
    Come see this show! Seriously, you will be so glad you did. This show is so important—especially now. I also want to thank Hisa and Erin for allowing me to be a part of such a special journey. The Summer Players’ program and performance is such a fun experience, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it. Oh, how lucky I am.

    Learn more about Seussical and buy tickets.

  • Couple Returns to Lead Planning For SCR Gala—the Theatre’s Major Annual Fundraiser

    Tania Thompson
     | Jul 11, 2018
    17-18 Gala Ball

    Bill Schenker, actor/playwright Sandra Tsing-Loh, Talya Nevo-Hachoen, Frier McCollister at the 2017 Gala.

    Last year, Talya Nevo-Hacohen and William Schenker chaired the committee that created South Coast Repertory’s popular and whimsical Gala, “Let’s Play.”

    The couple had such fun that they’re back to helm the 2018 Gala, “Places, Please!” (Saturday, Sept. 15, at The Westin South Coast Plaza).

    The husband-and-wife team is integrally involved in the life of the theatre. Nevo-Hacohen serves on SCR’s Board of Trustees and the couple subscribes to First Nights (opening nights) on both the Segerstrom and Julianne Argyros stages. 

    We asked them to talk more about the 2018 Gala theme and purpose, and the event’s importance for SCR.

    Tell us about the idea behind the 2018 Gala’s theme, “Places, Please!”
    This year’s theme is a reversal of roles: our patrons attending the Gala will be "actors" and will experience and observe the process of preparing to go onstage. The event is uniquely SCR, which means it’s very theatrical.

    Give us two words that describe the Gala.
    Glamorous and theatrical, of course! 

    What’s your philosophy as you approach planning the Gala?
    This event has to reflect SCR—the product, the people, the process—and be distinctly theatrical and about our theatre.

    Can you tell us about the deeper purpose of the Gala—raising support for the art of theatre at SCR? 
    The Gala is the single largest fundraising event for SCR, with proceeds going to support the education and outreach programs that SCR provides—bringing school kids here to experience live theatre—and to support the artistry onstage.

    Theatre is important because artists reflect the issues of our day​—and of humanity—and present them to an audience in new ways. This has been true since the dawn of mankind. It is through art that society expresses its fears, its pain and its struggles. Supporting SCR is how we develop imagination in our youth, provoke introspection and discussion amongst ourselves and provide a safe forum for the expression and sharing of differing views.

    What is unique about SCR’s Gala?
    This gala is about SCR and the theatrical experience. That makes it different from many other galas. Your contribution is made when you buy your tickets; there aren’t silent or live auctions. When you arrive on the evening of Sept.15, impeccably dressed and glowing, you will be with friends and other SCR patrons, dancing, dining and having an amazing time. 

    We hear that the raffle is back—and has some dazzling prizes!
    We were so pleased with how successful last year’s raffle was and we have something special, selective and high-end this year. I will give you a teaser: we have four raffle items this year, one of which will give you special, behind-the-scenes access to a Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry design workshop in Paris!

    Get the latest on the 2018 Raffle Prizes and how to purchase tickets.

    Why is SCR an important nonprofit for Orange County residents to support?
    We like to remind people that we have a world-class (truly!) theatre in our own backyard. It is a treasure that we are so lucky to have. We’ve heard many stories of how the plays and Theatre Conservatory classes have changed countless lives. Why WOULDN'T you want to support that?!

    What would you tell people who may be first-time Gala attendees?
    Buy tickets early for yourselves and for a couple of friends and come. You will have so much fun meeting people, dancing and learning more about SCR. Then next year, you can buy a table for all your friends!

    Learn more about the Gala.

  • 2018 Gala Raffle Prizes – Luxury Shopping Packages, a Private Acting Workshop and a Parisian Experience!

    SCR Staff
     | Jul 09, 2018

    Gala Ball

    SCR’s annual fundraising Gala kicks off Orange County’s theatre and social seasons in high style. This year’s Gala—with a theme of "Places, Please!"—will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15, at The Westin South Coast Plaza. The unforgettable evening gives theatregoers an opportunity to celebrate the backstage magic and artistic collaborations that make SCR’s productions so exceptional.

    Proceeds from the Gala help support the theatre’s onstage artistry and arts education programs, and one way that theatre enthusiasts can help support SCR is by purchasing raffle tickets whether or not they attend the Gala​. Among the glamorous raffle prizes this year are a one-of-a-kind Parisian experience, luxury shopping packages and a private acting workshop for six participants—all guaranteed to thrill theatre aficionados! Read on to learn more about these exciting, select prize packages.

    Chloe logoChloé package
    Style mavens will delight in this Chloé package prize, which includes a $1,000 shopping voucher to spend at Chloé at South Coast Plaza. Indulge in designer clothes, bags, fragrances, and accessories from the famed French luxury fashion house. The Chloé prize package also includes a beautiful, handmade leather accessory. (Value: $1,550)

    South Coast Plaza package
    Get ready to shop till you drop with this extraordinary raffle prize, which includes a $1,500 gift certificate to spend at South Coast Plaza, the world-renowned, luxury shopping destination. Boasting more than 250 boutiques and 30 distinct restaurants and eateries, South Coast Plaza is an international shopping destination just steps from SCR. (Value: $1,500)

    L'EcoleVan Cleef and ArpelsVan Cleef & Arpels’ Paris package 
    Enjoy the Parisian experience of a lifetime with the celebrated French jeweler, Van Cleef & Arpels! This dazzling package includes three nights at The Westin Paris Vendôme, a four-star property centrally located in Paris’ first arrondissement; two nights dinner for two at a Michelin-rated restaurant and two seats at a L’École: The School of Jewelry Arts course. Created in 2012 with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, L’École introduces participants to the timeless art form of jewelry. Some 20 classes, which span the subjects of Art History of Jewelry, Savoir-Faire, and the Universe of Gemstones, are taught in both English and French by a team of gemologists, art historians, and master jewelers and craftsmen. (Value: $4,400)

    *Experience must be redeemed by September 15, 2019. Prize package does not include airfare.

    South Coast RepertoryInside the “Actors Studio” at SCR
    How does an actor act? Unlock your inner Brando or Monroe as you learn the secrets from the pros. You and your five guests (six participants total) will discover your hidden acting talents alongside SCR acting professionals in your own private acting workshop at South Coast Repertory. Practice acting exercises, delve into script work and try your hand at improv as you explore the creative playground and experience the magic of creating live theatre. (Value: Priceless)

    Act now to support SCR and the chance to win your favorite raffle prizes! Single raffle tickets are $250.00 or five tickets for $1,000. The mail-in raffle ticket purchase form is available online here or tickets may be purchased by calling (714) 708-5590.

    Learn more about the 2018 Gala “Places, Please!”

  • A Parent's Perspective on SCR's Theatre Conservatory

    Alyssa Dong
     | Jun 28, 2018

    ​Alyssa Dong

    Hi, my name is Alyssa Dong and my daughter, Lauren, is playing the role of Gertrude in Seussical at South Coast Repertory this summer, in the Conservatory’s Summer Players program. As my daughter begins her seventh year here, I’d like to share with you what it’s like from my perspective as a parent going through this process, in hopes that you may also find similarities and/or possibilities for you and your child.

    At the age of seven, Lauren saw her first play, which was actually Seussical at a community theatre. After the play, she immediately begged my husband and me to sign her up for that theatre’s next play auditions, and the first thought that came to my mind was, “Oh no, another thing to add to my already busy schedule!”

    Life was busy enough with the kids that I couldn't see the value of her going to the next audition, but I said “ok” anyway. And to our surprise, she got cast! Okay, I thought, she will do this one play and then we’ll be getting back to her soccer games. She did get back to playing soccer and continued to audition for the next play and then the next play. Lauren was finding a new happiness in this theatre world and, I have to admit, it was a new happiness for me, as a parent, too.

    A friend of mine eventually introduced us to South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory, where kids can take acting classes. “Wow,” I thought, “a place where she can learn acting at a young age without me having to drive her to Los Angeles.” Yes! Where do I sign up? After a few classes, I started to realize how much my daughter was enjoying this experience. I was getting to see her explore new ​adventures and watch her grow in ways I never thought the Conservatory could create for her. She became a more confident child. She found out things about herself she may have never found outside SCR's Conservatory classes. She found her singing voice and developed meaningful friendships. Most of all, she learned how she can make a difference in this world, not just as an actor, but as a human being. As a parent, this was pretty cool to see.

    I have also been fortunate to meet and build lifelong friendships with other parents whose kids take acting classes at SCR. These friendships are an important part of my life because they provide a good support system not only for me, but for them as well. We can talk openly about our wishes and concerns for our children and experience their growth as they flourish because of what they are learning here at SCR.

    There is a sense of community and family when it comes to SCR; it is never about being the star or being a lead. It is all about the process of teaching. I learned that these parents and I have the same wants and desires for our children. I also learned that not all the kids who go through these acting classes will want to pursue acting as adults. Some kids enjoy the art and want to pursue it; others simply enjoy the Conservatory as a place where they can feel the most comfortable in expressing themselves and work on learning more about who they are as people. I love the Theatre Conservatory for Lauren​—it teaches her about process and collaboration and helps her develop lifelong skills. Through all of this, at SCR, is where I get to see her grow the most.

    *Stay tuned for Part II of Alyssa Dong’s blog series from the perspective of a parent.

    Learn more about SCR’s Theatre Conservatory.

  • Meet Conservatory Instructor Christopher Sullivan

    Danielle Bliss & Beth Fhaner
     | Jun 28, 2018

    Acting students work together on a scene.

    SCR isn’t just a great place to see live theatre; it’s also a great place to learn about different aspects of theatre. On a year-round basis, SCR’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for kids, teens and adults in the safe environment of our Tony Award-winning theatre. Led by experienced professional artists, students engage in lively instruction and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students can select from various classes including Summer Acting Workshop (a two-week theatre camp that's like a sampler of the year-round Conservatory classes), Musical Theatre, Playwriting, Acting for the Camera, Improv and much more. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing some of the instructors. Meet ​Christopher Sullivan.

    Which teacher inspired you in your acting studies―and in what way?
    I would say that all of my teachers inspired me in different ways. My high school teachers got me interested, my acting school teachers taught me focus and technique and my improv teachers taught me how to tell stories and be in the moment. Tracy Burns was a huge inspiration, as were Karen Hensel, Paul Beidler and Sheila Hillinger.

    What should students expect when they walk into class?
    Me with an iced tea in my hand and an idea in my head! They should also expect to have fun and play.

    What’s your best class memory of an “aha!” moment for a student?
    I think my "aha moments" happen long after my students leave and I see them go on to be successful in whatever they do and I hope Improvisational and acting training had something to do with it.

    What do you learn from your students?
    I hope to learn something different from each of them, even if it’s just a little bit about how they see the world.

    Are acting classes (improv classes, playwriting, etc.) only for folks interested in acting?
    Nope. I think theatre classes are good for anyone who wants to become a better listener, communicator, storyteller or just to build self-confidence or have fun.

    How would your students describe your teaching style?
    I have a pretty relaxed teaching style. My goal is always to help students become better storytellers by listening to their partners, accepting their ideas and making them look good by adding to those ideas.

    Why might acting classes be scary for some folks and how can they overcome that fear?
    You just have to do it. There are a lot more scary things in this world than taking a class. That being said, everyone is a little nervous, but the more classes you take, the less nervous you become and then you start taking bigger risks in class to try to get that feeling of nervous excitement back again.

    What’s your favorite dessert?

    Learn more about year-round acting classes at SCR's Theatre Conservatory.