Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Theatre IV on Tour - Meet the Company, Part I

Posted by Bruce Miller
The first Theatre IV show to hit the touring circuit this season is The True Story of Pocahontas, and it opened today in Chesterfield County Public Schools. Tomorrow, Tales as Tall as the Sky will meet its first student audiences in Henrico, followed by Hugs and Kisses, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Song of Mulan, all of which will open in Virginia schools sometime in the next week and a half, before spreading out on their national tours across 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Now would be a good time to introduce 13 of the 28 talented touring actors who are working with us fulltime this fall in our six touring companies. Many of them are new to Richmond, but if tradition holds, several of these newcomers will stay in town for years to come.

Our first actor is T. J. Ellis. T. J. gets to be first because he had to leave last week's Tourmite Party early, and in so doing missed the group photo. Here he is, flying solo.

T. J. played the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors with SPARC last summer. We thank Jamie and Rick Brindle for connecting us with T. J.

Jamie Brindle was a Theatre IV All-Star as a child (playing Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Really Bad Day, Christopher Robin in The House at Pooh Corner, etc.). He and T. J. were great pals in high school, and Jamie’s dad (TIV Board member Rick Brindle), gave us a heads up that T. J. was a young talent to keep our eye on.

T. J. is doing a terrific job as legendary folk hero John Henry in Tales as Tall as the Sky. As fate would have it, we have two characters named John Henry on stage right now. T J plays the "steel-drivin' man" of tall tale fame, and Eric Evans plays a more diminutive, ironically named John Henry in Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding at Barksdale Willow Lawn.

The quartet of talented young women in the photo to the left includes (left to right) Alia Bisharat, Winter Bailey, Ellie Atwood, and Jamie Sprovach. Alia, Winter and Ellie are in the 25th Anniversary Tour of Hugs and Kisses, Theatre IV’s internationally acclaimed child sexual abuse prevention program, co-produced with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia and the Virginia Department of Social Services. Jamie is in The Song of Mulan.

Alia returns to our employ after starring as Dorothy in last spring’s mainstage production of The Wizard of Oz. Winter (who has been Alia’s best friend since they both appeared in Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Theatre IV in the spring of 06) is a "military brat" who's lived all over the U. S., most recently in Petersburg. This is Winter's second year touring with Theatre IV.

Ellie was hired in our Memphis auditions. She graduated from Southern Illinois University and toured nationally with the California Theatre Center before joining us at Theatre IV. Jamie was hired in our St. Louis auditions. She graduated from Western Illinois University and performed with Bard in the Barn and the Western Illinois Summer Music Theatre before moving to Richmond to join Theatre IV.

The two men in Hugs and Kisses are Jonah Bowles and Christopher Schoen, pictured left to right in the cell phone photo to the right. Jonah was cast out of our Atlanta auditions. He graduated from Coastal Carolina University, and appeared in The Lost Colony before returning to Richmond, his home town. Chris is also a native son of our fair city, and the son of the chair of U of R's Theatre Dept., Walter Schoen. Chris is returning for his second year of touring with Theatre IV. At Barksdale, Chris has served as an assistant stage manager and appeared as the bear who chased a character across the stage in Melissa Arctic.

Another man who was unable to make it to the Tourmite Party and therefore missed the group photos is Beau Forbes, pictured in another cell phone pic to the left. Beau will be touring with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and will be in his second year with our company. He graduated from Southern Illinois University, and is an alum of The Johnny Appleseed Outdoor Drama in Ashland, Ohio.

There is one final group of five actors featured in this Part I post. Remember, I can’t include more than 20 names in the labels for any given post, so I frequently have to subdivide larger groups so as to be able to index everyone.

In the photo to the right, you will find (left to right) Amy Wolf, Nicholas Jimenez, Jeremy Howard, Jordan Barwick and Jermise Bailey, all of whom are working with Theatre IV and Barksdale for the first time. Amy and Nicholas are both appearing in Tales as Tall as the Sky. Amy graduated from the University of Richmond, and has performance experience at Sycamore Rouge in Petersburg and with the Fredericksburg Theatre Company and Riverside Theatre, both in Fredericksburg. Nicholas graduated from Appalachian State University, and was referred to us by his college professor (and former Theatre IV touring actor) Gordon Hensley. Nicholas's previous credits include the prestigious Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Jeremy, Jordan and Jermise are all touring in The Song of Mulan, and were all cast out of Atlanta. Jeremy graduated from Chattanooga State where he particularly enjoyed performing for young audiences in Cinderella and Once Upon a Mattress. Jordan hails from Kinston, N C. He and his wife Aubrey are the proud parents of twin daughters, Alana and Alexis. Jermise graduated Cum Laude from North Carolina Central University, after attending Henrico High School right here in Metro Richmond.
Tomorrow I'll introduce our remaining 15 actors. We're proud and privileged to be working with each and every one of these talented theatre pros, and looking forward to a terrific year.
--Bruce Miller

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