High school thespians train with theater professionals in award-winning program

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—June 23, 2016) – A cast of student actors from 14 Triangle-area schools will perform the award-winning Broadway musical “Violet” July 20-31 for the PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory (SYC). High school actors began work on the production June 20, with their backstage counterparts starting technical training last week.
PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present the musical as the culmination of its popular SYC program.
The music for “Violet” is by Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (“Fun Home,” “Shrek, the Musical,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie”), with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by the late North Carolina author and long-time UNC professor Doris Betts.

New York Magazine praised “Violet” as “a work of great resonance and beauty and joy” and Newsday raved “The Broadway musical we’ve been waiting for has arrived!”

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. July 20-23, 29, 30 and 2 p.m. July 24 and 31 in the Paul Green Theatre inside the Center for Dramatic Art located on Country Club Road. Tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students and children under 18, may be purchased by calling (919) 962-7529, online at www.playmakersrep.org or at the PlayMakers box office.

“Violet” is the touching, funny and moving story of a courageous heroine on a journey of self-discovery. When she sets out from her home in Spruce Pine, NC to seek healing for a disfiguring scar, Violet blossoms, finding her true beauty along the way. The best young talent from across the Triangle will perform this powerhouse piece of theater showcasing musical styles from country, gospel, bluegrass and honky-tonk rock to Memphis blues, in a production reuniting the director/choreographer and design team who staged recent SYC hits “Guys & Dolls” and “Hairspray.”

Matthew Steffens is director/choreographer for “Violet.” He was choreographer/assistant director for SYC’s “Guys & Dolls” and “Hairspray.” Steffens recently served as associate director/choreographer for the Off-Broadway production of “Bountiful: A Teacher’s Journey,” was associate choreographer for “Doctor Zhivago” and appeared in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “Promises, Promises” on Broadway, and was resident director of the immersive Off-Broadway show “Queen of the Night” (Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience). He has danced, fought and flown his way through 12 productions with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Television and film credits include “The Last Five Years,” “Across the Universe,” “Black Box” and “Smash.”

Recent Apex High School graduate Ainsley Seiger leads the cast in the title role of Violet. Seiger was recently selected as best actress in the Triangle Rising Star Awards and is currently performing on Broadway in competition for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. She garnered rave reviews as Miss Adelaide in last summer’s SYC show “Guys & Dolls.”

SYC is a unique, award-winning educational and performance opportunity for young people, which includes working with professional directors, choreographers, musical directors, designers and production personnel at PlayMakers.

Recognized as “a model program for youth theatre in North Carolina” by the North Carolina Theatre Conference, the Conservatory features three programs: Theatre Intensive and TheatreTech for high school students and Theatre Quest for middle schoolers.

High school actors in the Theatre Intensive program train, rehearse and perform in PlayMakers’ professional theater space. At the same time, participants in TheatreTech begin a program in scenic, costume and lighting production. TheatreTech includes technical coursework followed by a month-long apprenticeship with PlayMakers.

During Theatre Quest, middle school students participate in a series of week-long classes from June 13 to July 15. Students train with professional artists in a variety of subjects including Principles of Acting and Musical Theatre, among others.

For more information, visit http://playmakersrep.org/education-and-outreach/summer-youth-programs/.

About PlayMakers
Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Carolinas’ premier resident professional theater company. New York’s Drama League has named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America.”

Images: SYC photos and “Violet” poster art are available on request.

PlayMakers contact: For press information, interviews, photos or art, contact Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359, cmahan@email.unc.edu.