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Daniel Mills Apprentices Share Their Love of Performing

Marcus Moore and Mimi Velazquez are high school students in the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program. They both say the Broadway musical “Beetlejuice” is their favorite production. The set is creative, the music is rousing, the story healing and the jokes hysterical. It’s just great entertainment all the way around, they agree. But the two are not appearing in what the San Diego Union-Tribune called a “zany” and “wildly entertaining” play. Instead, they are in Metamorphoses, presented by Rollins College’s Annie Russel Theatre at Sally K. Albrecht Studio Theatre (Nov. 3-18), a one-of-a-kind theatrical presentation that reinvigorates ancient Greek and Roman myths, complete with a large pool of water onstage. 

A Magical Experience on Stage With the Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program

And therein lies the magic of the stage — you can laugh, heal and even time travel. Velazquez, a Winter Springs High School junior who calls herself loud and strongly opinionated, started in theater when she was only five years old. 

“I was doing ballet then, but I wasn’t very good at it,” Velazquez says. “When I got an opportunity to be in a play, I fell in love with acting right away.” For her, the stage is a place to experience different feelings, cultures and life circumstances. “It’s like you can go anywhere and be anyone when you’re on stage, and the audience gets to take the trip with you.” 

Velazquez has leaned on hope as her acting career has blossomed. “One of the greatest things I’ve learned and what I’d tell other performers is that just because you might not get a role doesn’t mean you won’t succeed.”

According to Velazquez, rejection is part of being a performer, and it’s something she tries not to take personally. “The director or producer may be looking for something different. I do my best in every audition, and then it’s out of my hands. You have to let it go and hope for the best,” Velazquez says. 

No Small Roles

Moore also is outgoing and has a welcoming personality. He calls himself a “people person” who loves playing chaotic and fun characters. He’s played lead roles in Moana Junior, Frozen Junior and High School Musical Junior. 

At 15 years old, this DeLand High School sophomore says the thing that got him into theater was a nudge from his mother when he was in fifth grade. 

“My mom pushed me to do theater. I was already in choir, but she wanted me to branch out and make more friends,” Moore says. His mom’s plan worked. Moore has plenty of friends and sees theater as a possible career. 

Although he has yet to do theater technical work, Moore says he is interested in possibly double majoring in theater and engineering. “I like knowing how things work.” 

Luckily, the apprenticeship will allow Moore to take masterclasses in theater lighting, designing and other technical professionals.

“I want to learn all I can about the theater. I love being on the stage, and I know I can become an even better actor when I understand more about the whole production process,” Moore says.

Like Velazquez, Moore is learning self-acceptance and how to appreciate who he is through performing. “Theater has taught me that if you’re not comfortable being yourself all the time, it’s OK, and everybody is probably feeling the same way.”

Written by Tarre Beach

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