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MEEKER I The population of New York City is equal to about 3,400 Meeker-size towns, but that didn’t deter a group of actors and directors from taking the city by storm in July.
Directors Gary and Laurie Zellers and Shana Holliday and youth actors Annelise Amack, Savana May, Ruby Holliday, Mason Holliday, Ashdon Siebert and Sena Zellers visited the Big Apple July 9-16.
The group saw the sights, experienced several Broadway shows, including the smash hit “On Your Feet,” and was able to learn about their craft from professional actors and producers.
Several classes were offered through Music Theater International and included participants from Florida, Oklahoma, California and Colorado.
They covered auditioning prep from Leo Ash Evans of “Shuffle Along,” dance instruction from Luis Salgado of “On Your Feet,” show tune writing from Jim Territo, stage combat courtesy of Judi Lewis Ockler, an acting technique class by Nicole Kempskie, improvisational comedy instruction from David Rossmer (Thernadier in Les Miserables), vocal performance from “On Your Feet” musical director Lon Hoyt and a question and answer session with a panel of current thespians.
Gary Zellers and Shana Holliday attended classes on musical direction and technical direction.
Actors were also able to audition individually and receive feedback from Broadway casting director Michael Cassara.
The trip was the first time in the city that never sleeps for all but two in the group. It was “an eye-opening experience of other cultures,” Gary Zellers said.
For the participants, their favorite experiences overwhelmingly were the Broadway shows they attended and the classes they took.
Annalise Amack said, “The most valuable thing I learned was new acting skills and how to keep the production running smoothly.”
Mason Holliday’s favorite thing was “the fact that now I know how to slap someone without actually slapping them. (I’m really looking forward to using that one.)”
The trip was sponsored by Meeker Arts and Cultural Council, grants from organizations including the Human Resource Council and generous donations from a variety of local businesses and individuals, including White River Electric Association, Rio Blanco Ranch, Elk Creek, Meeker Lions Club, the Town of Meeker and board of trustees, Meeker Library District, John and Abby Winklereid of Marvine Ranch, Tori Houser, Angie Castaldo and the Rio Blanco County Commissioners. Fundraising was also done by participants, family and friends at MotoMayhem, the hospital gala, Meekerpalooza and Lions Club Bingo.
“It was such a team effort it was inspiring,” Zellers said.
Meeker can look forward to these newfound skills being put to good use for local productions.
As participant Savana May put it, “Theater is such an important part of my life, and from the experience of this trip I hope to make as big of an impact on other people’s lives through theater as it has made on my life.”