The Power of the Performing Arts

Three new W. Daniel Mills apprentices find healing, inspiration and community in theater.

The W. Daniel Mills Apprenticeship Program, through the generosity of the Mills family, has awarded 30 Central Florida high school students paid internships with the Garden Theatre this year. A few student apprentices share what theater means to them.

Dealing with Loss

Larissa Fox, a senior at Monteverde Academy, was Daniel Mills’ girlfriend. She says losing Daniel unexpectedly last year was deeply painful. However, now she is even more motivated to continue her journey in theater because she now knows personally how the performing arts can help heal. 

“Theater is a space where people can receive a message of love. I feel working in the theater honors Daniel in a positive way,” Fox says.

Fox is currently the apprentice director under the guidance of director Beth Marshall for Looped, which plays at the Garden Theatre from October 8 to 24. Fox says the production is very intimate with only three characters and a theme of uncovering the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. 

After graduation Fox plans to continue her education in performance art/theater therapy. She says she is drawn to this type of work because it can help people.

“I see theater as magical and as a way to heal. And whether you are dealing with loss or something else, who doesn’t need a little magic sometimes?” Fox says.

A Career That Inspires

Nicolas Querino is an Olympia High School senior whose wants to pursue acting. His mother, a nurse, was skeptical about a career in performance at first, but now supports him. “Once she saw me act, I think she saw what it means. She believes in me,” Querino says. 

He also has a plan B and looks to double major in education and acting. In some ways acting and teaching are similar, Querino says. For students to better embrace material such as history, social studies, and science, teachers might perform what they are teaching. And the opposite is often true, too; great acting can teach. No matter his major, Querino hopes to help others through art in some way.

“Look at how much we’ve needed inspiration in the last year. Being able to inspire others as a career would be such a gift,” Querino says.

Together Again

Ethan Kaufman has been in theater since 9th grade. He says one of the things that attracted him to lighting design was how lighting could be a subtle or bold tool to help guide the audience on their journey through a play. 

Although not an athlete himself, Kaufman likens theater to sports because it takes a team of people working together to be successful. “There’s no I in team, well there isn’t one in theater either,” he says. “We all make it happen. Without the director, we have no leadership. Without lighting we have no way to see the story. Without set design or costumes you can’t be transported in time and space. Without the actors you can’t relate to the story yourself.” 

Kaufman’s sees the performing arts as a way for people to come together and not just the production crew and actors, but the community too. 

“I think that’s the beautiful thing about theater, you can walk in separate and alone, then walk out afterwards bonded and together. This year we need more togetherness.”


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