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Music Boosters scholarship alumni give back

Three current Music Boosters college scholarship winners returned to Pagosa Springs during their winter break to demonstrate a sample of what they have learned to students at Pagosa Springs High School.

University students Becca Stephens, Jeff Reardon and Robert Neel joined forces to lead an acting workshop for PSHS students as they prepared their recent production of the one act play, “Scratching the Surface.”

Becca Stephens, Music Boosters 2008 scholarship winner, is in her fourth year at The University of Colorado at Boulder, where she is majoring in English, theater, and secondary Education. Becca has consistently returned to Pagosa over the past three years to assist with Music Boosters productions by teaching choreography, leading activities to help actors hone their acting skills, and performing in leading roles. “The kids really look up to Becca,” says Dale Johnson, Music Boosters Production Director. At the recent one-act workshop, Becca attended several rehearsals, leading students through improvisation activities, physical and verbal warmups and breathing exercises.

Jefferson Reardon, a 2010 scholarship winner, recalls warm memories in the minds of all who saw his acting skills grow and develop on the PSHS stage over recent years. Jeff’s flexibility as an actor was demonstrated many times as he played leading roles that ranged from the comedic to the dramatic. Jeff currently is a sophomore student at New York University where he is studying theater and acting at the famous Tisch School of the Arts in the prestigious Atlantic Acting School Ensemble. During his high school years, Jeff enjoyed tremendous popularity among fellow high school students as a high-energy “wild and crazy guy.” He could be seen at weekly sporting events as the school’s Pirate mascot wearing the Pirate costume and waving the Pirate flag. Jeff was also an excellent student, graduating at the top of his class. “His passion for acting has made him a very conscientious student who takes the development of his“skills very seriously,” said Johnson. At the one-act workshop he utilized the Suzuki Actor Training Method and Viewpoints exercises to lead students in activities to help them use their bodies more powerfully and effectively on stage.

Robert Neel, the 2011 Music Boosters Scholarship winner, is a freshman at Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, majoring in musical theater. Robert is another favorite among Pagosa Springs theater-goers, not only for his acting skills, but for his beautiful singing voice. Robert was selected in both 2010 and 2011 to participate in the Colorado All-State Choir, the highest honor available to high school singers. Robert displayed his acting diversity as he played the comedic role of “Jack” in Music Boosters 2008 production of “Into the Woods” and, later, the evil “Javert” in the amazing PSHS 2010 production of “Les Miserable.” At SFUAD, he has been selected to participate in a small select vocal ensemble comprised of the best voice students at the university. Robert led PSHS students through exercises to help actors develop focus and imagination in their character portrayals. All three graduates also spent time coaching individual actors in character interpretation.

These students all have greatly benefited from the early training they received during Music Boosters productions. Among the many gifts Music Boosters provides for the arts in the schools, Music Boosters offers a training ground for young actors and offers financial assistance through four-year scholarships for those gifted students who wish to go on to develop their skills as professionals. Becca Stephens, Jeff Reardon, and Robert Neel are only three out of many others who have been assisted by Music Boosters over the past twenty three years. “We are so proud of our Music Boosters alumni who have gone on to take their artistic skills to countless others around the country,” says Johnson. “We help plant the seed, help to nurture it, and then watch those talents grow into something quite extraordinary,” she said.

Music Boosters next production will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved version of “Cinderella,” to be presented June 29 and30 and July 1, 5, 6 and 7 in the PSHS auditorium. Auditions will be held at Pagosa Springs High School on April 13, from 2 to 8 p.m. Music Boosters is dedicated to strengthening youth through participation in performing arts and adult volunteer mentorship. Auditions are open to the public.

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