Spotlight on Local Actors
On stage now through February 23 as Georg in Spring Awakening, Carson Collins is an actor, singer, and theatre artist who recently graduated from The Catholic University of America in DC with a BM in Musical Theatre a minor in Performing Arts Management. In between wowing Round House audiences with his rapturous vocals, Carson sat down with some of the other local performers in the show to ask them what makes the DMV theatre scene so special.
When Round House Theatre announced their production of Spring Awakening, I was still a senior at The Catholic University of America, and it was the most exciting season announcement I had heard. “Finally,” I thought, “a show with more than one part for a teenage-looking young person that was searching heavily for talent within the DC community!” The buzz through my school was palpable, something that I can safely assume was echoed through other arts programs across the city. With the show up and running now, that excitement for my community of young, local talent is even stronger: of the 13 cast members portraying teenagers in Spring Awakening, 11 attended either high school or college in the area. Among the schools represented are Howard University, American University, The Catholic University of America, Archbishop Spalding High School, Winston Churchill High School, and The Catholic High School of Baltimore.
Because a large part of Round House’s mission focused on demanding and facilitating conversation, I decided to talk to my fellow actors about a question we aren’t usually asked. For a young actor, choosing where to work, perform, and call your “home base” is a huge decision. With 11 members of the cast either continuing to live in or returning to the DMV, I wanted to know “Why DC? What about this region keeps you coming back, and what makes it special in your opinion?”
Chani Wereley (Martha) says that she calls DC home because she’s “been really lucky to be loved and supported by this community, and to learn so much from these artists during [her] formative years as a human and as an artist.” She goes on to say, “I think what’s kept me here after college is that there’s so much meaningful and groundbreaking work being done in DC all across the board. There’s no shortage of ways to nourish your soul, to create, to feel, and to experience.” Hailey Ibberson (Female Swing) adds to that sentiment saying that she “want[s] to work in a city that allows [her] to encounter every type of artist and every type of mind, no matter where they happen to be in their career” and she has found just that not only in this city, but within this production. It is her belief that “the collaboration of differences…makes art inimitably beautiful.”
With more than 90 theatre companies listed in theatreWashington’s directory of Washington-Area Theatres, it is no surprise that Christian Montgomery (Hanschen) lists the abundance of theatrical opportunity as his reason for calling DC home. “There are so many passionate theatres in the DMV area that have unique mission statements and put on captivating and thought-provoking work, and there are new theatre companies starting all the time. The reason I stay here is because I have the opportunity to do what I love every day and to be challenged as an artist. Not to mention the added plus of working with the most generous and talented group of humans I’ve ever met.”
I agree with him wholeheartedly and personally think that what makes the DC theatre scene unique is that it is not dominated by massive for-profit theaters and mega producers. This community seems more willing to take risks on new works and experimental theatre than what is broadcast in a larger theatre scene.
I am very grateful to Round House for facilitating this collaboration between my fellow actors, our amazing design team, and the genius duo of director Alan Paul (a Churchill HS alum) and choreographer Paul McGill. I hope that the excitement I feel every day walking into the theatre is something that the audience catches and spreads in their own lives.
The cast and creative team of Spring Awakerning at the Opening Night Reception. Photo by Cameron Whitman Photography.
Carson Collins (Georg) in Spring Awakening. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Chani Wereley (Martha) in Spring Awakening. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Christian Montgomery (Hanschen) and James Mernin (Ernst) in Spring Awakening. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.