Suffolk teens head to Broadway

Published 7:54 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

Nothing is more exciting for a theater kid than a week spent in New York City working with some of Broadway’s biggest names.

Three Suffolk residents — Gwyneth Strange, Kate Bevilacqua and Leanna Szwydek — got their chance to learn to be a Broadway star at Destination Broadway’s summer intensive program.

Destination Broadway is a week-long program that was made for aspiring young singers, dancers and actors that is focused on skills needed by a young performer pursuing a career in the performing arts. One of their teachers was Tiffany Haus, a Virginia native, who played Glinda in “Wicked.”

Email newsletter signup

“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” said Gwyneth, 14.

Gwyneth has been acting, singing and dancing since she was 7, and she knows that this is what she wants to pursue theater as a career. She is a rising freshman at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

“There’s so much that I learned,” said Kate, 14. “I think one of the most amazing things was learning so many things that I didn’t know before.”

Kate also attends NSA with Gwyneth.

The workshop was beneficial to those attending, but there were parts that challenged them. For Gwyneth, the hardest part was the dance audition.

“It was a real dance audition, and we were all crammed in one room,” Gwyneth said. “We had to learn a little routine, and it was fast-paced. We were treated nicer than a real audition, but it was hard to see and really fast.”

“I don’t know if it was the best dance, but it was interesting to see how it all worked out.”

Kate also seemed to find difficulty in dancing, but the hardest part for her was getting out of her own head.

“The acting took a long time to click, but when it did, I realized what I’ve been missing,” Kate said. “Before, I didn’t know how to get out of my head, and now that I can get out of my head I can come up with improv, and it is so much easier to feel real in the characters.”

The trip was meant to help the teens with their musical theater skills, but it gave them a chance to work on life skills as well.

After spending a week with 50 other students, the girls gained a new group of friends as well as a support system.

“I was so worried I wouldn’t make friends, but I was lucky to have Kate there with me,” Gwyneth said. “It was an amazing experience.”

“At first it was intimidating seeing super talented people, but by the last few days, we were hanging out every night, and we were so supportive of each other. There was no hatefulness, and we were so loving and caring,” Kate said.

Now that the summer intensive program is over, both Kate and Gwyneth feel good about their skills and their plans to make theater a career.

“I have more hope, because I have more training, and training is everything,” Kate said. “When you go to auditions, they see your training.”

“I know that I have to persevere, and a lot of people told us how many times they have been rejected, and I learned that I have to keep practicing,” Gwyneth said. “An actor’s job isn’t just being in a show, but it’s just how much they practice and put themselves out there.”