Future students crave the stage

The UVM theater department attracts hundreds of prospective students every year, many from local high schools.

One student is Burlington High School alumna and junior Kaitie Bessette. “I’ve been seeing UVM shows since I was four, especially the ‘Toys Take Over Christmas’ shows,” Bessette said. “I really wanted to go to UVM specifically because I needed to be in that show.” Bessette said that participating in the theater program at BHS prepared her for theater at UVM especially because the casting for the spring play at BHS could be as selective as college theater.

The fall musical casting is not as competitive, Bessette said. “They don’t turn anyone away, which is kind of cool because it helps kids get immersed into the theater program at BHS,” she said. This spring, the high school theater club is putting on “Scapino,” a play set in Naples, Italy.

One student in the spring play this year is BHS senior Nick Braten, who said he looked to UVM specifically for its large theater productions. “One of the reasons I want to go to UVM is because of their drama program,” Braten said. The theater program has had an important impact on Braten’s life, he said.

 

“Drama has definitely helped me in a lot more ways than just having fun on stage,” he said. “It has helped me become a better person, helped become a better student – if it wasn’t for the drama department I honestly don’t know what I’d do.”

 

Leesa Guay-Timpson is the theater program director at BHS, and said she acts like a head coach for the students. Guay-Timpson said she has been doing theater at BHS for 26 years. The club is nonprofit, Guay-Timpson said, and the school does not provide funding outside of allowing the club to use the theater space. “I’m an independent business within the school basically,” she said.

Guay-Timpson said this is why the fall musical is so important to the program. “Whatever we take at the door, that’s what we live on for the year,” she said. “That’s why we have the musical in the fall, that’s the big money-maker and then we coast on that.” Despite the money constraints, Guay-Timpson said the club still offers students great opportunities. Guay-Timpson said the club is going to a Broadway musical this spring. “The kids pay 50 bucks but if they can’t afford it we pay it anyway so they can go,” she said.