Step up! Curtains open for new acting school
There’s a new drama school in town, and it's getting good reviews. Barely a year old, Charlottesville School for the Dramatic Arts (CSDA) already offers a full slate of classes and productions and recently held a "Showcase of Talent" to give audiences a taste of what they have been up to.
CSDA's well known director, Cathy Stapleton, who moved to town more than a decade ago, formerly directed the award-winning Drama Department at Charlottesville High School and taught chorus and drama at the Village School.
She has been inspired many students to pursue a life in the theater. Several have studied at prestigious drama schools such as Northwestern, New York University, and Julliard. One of her students, Jeff Wadlow, son of the late state senator Emily Couric, recently won a major award: a $1,000,000 grant to produce a film he's written.
Equally at home on the stage and in the classroom, Stapleton has an acting resume with appearances in countless productions in New York and Washington, D.C., and on ABC daytime television. In addition, she toured nationally as Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and as Constanze in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus.
"As a result of her experience and background, Cathy intuitively knows the strengths and weaknesses of her performers, and she knows how to bring out the best in them," says Carol Lamb, a CSDA supporter. Stapleton's teaching philosophy allows her to challenge and encourage her students as they stretch. If her past record is any indication, the students respond to her style and excel.
Stapleton and her staff at CSDA work with all ages, from kindergartners to adults, and offer a variety of classes, from musical theater to improvisation to serious drama.
"We want CSDA to be a place for students to explore their interests in singing, acting, and movement," Stapleton says. "The teachers here applaud students for their individuality, and we encourage support from other student performers as well."
If you think you may be interested in taking a class, know that no experience is necessary. All you need is the desire to try hard and a willingness to take the risk of performing before an audience. CSDA has a clear goal. They want to provide a supportive environment for anyone who wishes to learn the mechanics of dramatic and musical production and work on self-confidence skills, too.
Fall classes are now under way. Call for enrollment information or to schedule a visit to the facilities. CSDA is located at 1791 Allied St. (behind C’ville Coffee). 293-8700.