Triple threat: Three local actors getting regional (and national!) attention

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Finn Faulconer in Finding Neverland. Photo: Courtesy subject Finn Faulconer in Finding Neverland. Photo: Courtesy subject

Charlottesville is fortunate to boast a rich local theater scene with myriad opportunities to get involved. Theatrical training is worthwhile even if you don’t have stars in your eyes; but for kids hungry for that theater life, growing up on C’ville’s stages provides the training and support they need to take their next steps. Read on to learn more about a few local theater kids making it big, regionally and beyond.

Finn Faulconer

12, tutored by On Location Educational services

Current role: George in Finding Neverland (now on its first national tour)

Charlottesville acting opportunities:

A Christmas Carol at Four County Players

Fiddler on the Roof at Ash Lawn Opera

Les Misérables and To Kill a Mockingbird at Live Arts

Mary Poppins at Shenanarts

Training:

• Ballet, tap, contemporary and hip-hop dance lessons with Charlottesville Ballet Academy

• DMR Adventures Dream Team and DMRinNYC

• Virginia Consort Choir under Donna Rehorn

• Voice lessons with Liz Leone and Doug Schneider

• Private audition coaching with Melissa Charles for NYC auditions

How do you find acting opportunities?

My mom found the New York auditions I’ve done on Backstage.com and Actors Access, and also from my NYC-based manager, who scheduled the audition appointments for us.

Why do you enjoy performing?

My favorite part of theater in Charlottesville is the sense of community with the cast. The camaraderie you build is so strong. The show I am working on now, Finding Neverland, is very intense, and everybody is very professional. We are all still close, but I do feel the pressure to up my game. What I love about Finding Neverland is that I get to work with other boys (the boys are like my brothers) and with dogs!

Words of advice?

Start with community theater. If you don’t get the part you want, do the show anyway and stick with it. Try not to be nervous during auditions—remember that everyone wants you to succeed. Keep auditioning and participate in as many shows as you can!

Anya Rothman in Because of Winn-Dixie. Photo: Courtesy Delaware Theatre Company
Anya Rothman (second from left) in Because of Winn-Dixie. Photo: Courtesy Delaware Theatre Company

Anya Rothman

11, sixth grade

Current role: Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.

Charlottesville acting opportunities:

Fiddler on the Roof at Ash Lawn Opera

Getting Near to Baby at Live Arts

Annie, Once on This Island and Cinderella at DMR  Adventures

The Sound of Music at Albemarle High School

Les Misérables at Charlottesville High School

Alice in Wonderland, The Sound of Music and Seussical with Black Box Players

(Previously, Anya played Sweetie Pie in Because of Winn-Dixie at Delaware Theatre Company and Annie Who in the national tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

Training:

• Master classes in acting, singing and dancing; private coaching; DMR All Stars troupe, DMR Dream

Team troupe at DMR Adventures with Melissa Charles

• Tap and hip-hop at Charlottesville Ballet Academy

• Tap at Live Arts

What is your favorite project to date?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, it would be Because of Winn-Dixie. I especially loved working with the dogs and all the people involved. Plus, since it is a new musical still being developed, I got to work directly with the writers, Nell Benjamin and Duncan Sheik, which was an incredible experience. I made some wonderful friends in the show, too, who I still keep in touch with.

Words of advice?

Work and train hard, keep auditioning, learn from your mistakes and don’t give up. Actors don’t get most of the roles they audition for—that’s a normal part of the business, so don’t take it personally. And don’t be jealous of others—celebrate each other’s successes. Pursue other interests that are not theater-related in the times between shows and auditions. That way you can have many kinds of fun and success.

Mila Cesaretti in Fiddler on the Roof. Photo: Courtesy subject
Mila Cesaretti in Fiddler on the Roof. Photo: Courtesy subject

Mila Cesaretti

15, Charlottesville High School sophomore

Current project: The 39 Steps at CHS, which will compete at the Virginia Theatre Association festival in Norfolk.

Charlottesville acting opportunities:

Annie with Black Box Players

Annie and Snoopy: The Musical at Four County Players

Into the Woods Jr. and Broadway & Beyond cabaret with DMR Adventures

Adrenaline Film Project with the Virginia Film Festival

Training:

Filmmaking at Light House Studios

Dance lessons at Charlottesville Performing Arts School

Voice lessons with Elaine Brown and Doug Schneider

How do you find acting opportunities?

I found out about a few training opportunities in New York City from others in our passionate local theater community. I attended Broadway Artists Alliance’s musical theater intensive in New York City for two summers, studying voice and acting. While I was in New York, I was picked up by a New York talent manager  and, subsequently, an agent. Last summer, I trained more intensively in acting at the Stella Adler Studio’s Teen Summer Conservatory in NYC. I got support and training for that audition from local experts like Boomie Pedersen, and recommendations from my CHS teacher, David Becker. I’ve also performed in Richmond, playing Shprintze in Fiddler on the Roof at Virginia Repertory Theater.

What is your favorite project to date?

Probably Fiddler on the Roof, as I liked the intensity and professionalism.

Words of advice?

No matter how talented you are, you will always face rejection in this field. Don’t let the “no’s” get you down—just keep doing what you love, and your passion will keep you going.

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