Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

December 31, 2012

‘Glee’ star Mega returns to Plaza Academy

It was about this time last year when stage and screen actor Curt Mega paid a visit to Cleburne’s Plaza Academy and Friday found him back again to teach two film and TV workshops.

Arlington native Mega is perhaps best known for his recurring role as Nick the Warbler in “Glee” in addition to other film and television roles.

Before that, Mega befriended Plaza Theatre Co. co-founders JaceSon and Tina Barrus while they were operating a theater company in Hurst. Mega starred in several of that company’s productions and went on to star in and direct several Plaza plays as well as roles at Casa Mañana and other area theaters before moving to Los Angeles in 2010 to pursue film work.

Last year Mega and his wife, Kimberly Whalen, taught workshops on film and TV and another on musical theater. This year, Mega decided to stick to the basics of the trade.

“I’m taking a different approach this time,” Mega said during a break in the first workshop. “I’m presenting the principles I’ve learned from JaceSon, Tina and other teachers and mentors who helped lay my acting groundwork before I moved to L.A. So this is, ‘Here are some of the tools I learned along the way that helped me.’”

Mega said he hopes his insight into and experience in procuring acting jobs will benefit students in the area who may not otherwise have access to such information.

“Which is not to say that’s just here,” Mega said. “I’ve met people in L.A. who showed up to pursue acting who didn’t really know the basics of auditioning and so forth, how to go about getting work. And it’s not like I’m the expert. I’m still learning and going on auditions. So this is more I’m going through it and here are some of the things I’ve seen and learned about the business.”

Friday morning’s session found a group of eight students, all 15 or younger, working through scenes. Mega had two students at a time perform a scene then he, and fellow students, offered feedback. Mega offered scant information about the background and context of the scene to be performed ahead of time.

“This time I’m doing less improv work with the students and more legitimate scene studies,” Mega said. “That highlights how the smallest choice can vastly change the context of the scene. This puts them in a situation where they have to work very fast with limited choices and make very specific decisions about character development.”

Mastering such skills through practice benefits aspiring actors who hope to audition for roles be they stage, screen or TV, he said.

“Shows directors that this actor is smart, can work on their feet, can be directed and showed up prepared,” Mega said.

Students Emma Walker and Angelina Stephens make several runs through a scene, which is later revealed to be about two people forced to rob a bank under duress. Mega offers several suggestions to both actors while at the same time encouraging and applauding their acting chops, and then asks their fellow students how they interpreted Stephens’ and Walker’s performance.

“I’m also going to have them read some sides from shows like “Modern Family” and “The Middle,” which are the type of things someone in L.A. would legitimately be reading for,” Mega said.

Stephens, 14, of Fort Worth, attended last year’s workshop and said she was happy to return this year. In part because she said she thinks Mega is cute.

“But to learn more about acting too,” Stephens said.

Stephens said she learned a lot last year and hopes to build on that through this year’s workshop. Stephens, who attends Travis Academy of Fine Arts in Fort Worth, said she’s appeared in children’s theater productions at Artisan Center Theater in Hurst. Stephens said she hopes to continue acting on stage and perhaps move into film.

Emma Walker, 15, of Texarkana wasn’t able to make last year’s workshop.

“My grandmother read about [last year’s classes] online, but we were traveling at the time and couldn’t make it,” Walker said. “When she heard they were having it again this year, and we were home, I definitely wanted to make it. I’m a big fan of “Glee” and Curt, but I’ve also been really big on acting forever.”

Walker said she’s performed in “Annie,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and other plays.

“Don’t know yet, will see where it goes,” Walker said when asked if she also hopes to move into film and TV work.

Mega said he’s been busy since last year. In addition to working on “Glee” and other projects he and a group of actors and filmmakers began a production company and have been producing a web series.

“It’s exciting,” Mega said. “We have full episodes, mini webisodes and it’s fun because it embraces all the social media and technology, which is where we are. YouTube and Netflix are producing original shows. People now don’t only watch shows on their TV, but also their phones, computers, tablets.”

The group has produced several episodes, which can be seen at BufferingTheWebSeries.com.

As for next year, Mega said he hopes, work schedule willing, to return for more Plaza workshops.

Plaza Academy otherwise offers a variety of performing arts classes ranging from acting to dance to music instruction. For information, visit www.plaza-theatre.com or call 817-202-0600.

Watch a video at www.cleburnetimesreview.com..

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