By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
HORSE CAVE —
Four young actors credit their career success to Kentucky Repertory Theatre.
Brent Morrison, Ellen Murrey Lawrence, Jordan Gosnell and J. Robert Lindsey — all of Glasgow — were participants in the theater’s Young Performers acting program during their teenage years, and all have gone on to pursue acting careers.
Morrison worked as an actor with the theater for the 2012 season and had plans to return this year to act, as well as to do some directing. That was before he found out the theater was closing.
“They told me they were having some problems and then the legs got knocked out from under us,” he said.
Morrison summed up how he felt upon hearing the news with one word — “heartbroken.”
“It is pretty terrible,” he said. “I think Glasgow, Bowling Green, Horse Cave and all the counties surrounding it have really lost something special.”
The theater launched Young Performers in 1999 shortly after Robert Brock had been hired as its education director.
“I had been out doing a lot of workshops in schools all around the surrounding counties and just saw hardly any of the schools had drama programs,” Brock said.
He also noticed how “hungry” the students were to have a drama program.
“We thought we could be the answer,” he said.
The first summer the program was made available it presented Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“I had just enough people to cast the show,” Brock said. “I know we had people from Barren, Hart, Warren, Edmonson and Metcalfe counties that first year, and then it started to grow.”
The theater typically presented one Young Performer production each year, but occasionally it did two.
“I recall that we did 15 Young Performer productions from 1999 to 2010,” Brock said.
The youths who turned out for the program came in not knowing any of the other students involved, but by the time they presented the production they had all become friends, he said.
Many of the youths were shy but they soon began to emerge from their shells, he said.
Approximately 20 students who took part in the program went on to attend the Governor’s School of Arts, he said, adding he was told the theater’s Young Performers program produced more Governor’s School of Arts participants than any other program in the state.
Morrison was one of those students involved with the theater’s Young Performers program and went on to attend the Governor’s School for the Arts.
His experiences at Kentucky Rep spurred him to seek acting as a career.
“It has every positive effect I ever had to pursue [acting],” Morrison said. “It was the driving force behind it. It was the best learning experience … and the most fun I’ve had.”
Gosnell, also began acting with Young Performers, and is working as a stand-in for Hayden Panettiere on ABC’s television drama “Nashville.”
The impact Kentucky Rep had on her decision to become an actor, she said, “was pivotal.”
“I had always been interested in acting. It seemed like such an adventurous and amazing career to have,” she said. “Robert Brock gave me that with my first play at 16 in ‘Our Town.’ It changed my life. It showed me that I did have the ability that I thought I had.”
Read the full report in The Weekender print or e-edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.