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girl auditioning in front of guest actor from Moulin Rouge

Kent Overshown was 14 years old when he and his friends went to the movie “Moulin Rouge.”

Moulin Rouge actor Kent Overshown sitting in a black plastic chair offering advice to student after her audition

“My life changed after that moment,” Overshown wrote on his Instagram page. “I was obsessed! I would dream up a future where the movie would be brought to the stage & I would be a part of it.”

Overshown spoke to about 55 Middle and Upper school students Wednesday during a workshop, where the actor from the touring production of “Moulin Rouge” helped them immerse themselves into songs.

He also helped students create environments and encouraged them to think about who they were singing to and not “stick to what the song was written for and about.”

“Do not change yourself for anyone,” Overshown told students. “Do not change yourself for the role. Be authentic. You are never too good to stop learning. You are never too smart to stop learning.”

The students invited to the workshop are all members of this year’s musicals.  Providence Day’s Upper School theater department is gearing up to perform the spring musical “Freaky Friday,” which opens April 11 at the McMahon Fine Arts Center.

“Honestly, I was a little terrified at the beginning,” Junior Emily Clark says of Overshown’s workshop. “When he started saying his whole resume, that’s when it really landed on me. Oh my gosh. This is a really cool opportunity.’”

Jamie Hutteman, Middle School Theater teacher, advisor and director, says workshops allow students to connect with a professional who is making a practical living as a performance artist.

“They learn from the benefit of that person's experience, have an opportunity to engage in a question and answer time with the artist,” Ms. Hutteman says, “and some of them will get one-on-one song coaching from the artist, which will help them with musical auditions.”

Hutteman works with national organizations to connect students and educators with Broadway artists for workshops and other events. She also taps into The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte for accomplished performers. The Blumenthal brings popular Broadway musicals to the city, including “Moulin Rouge” running through March 31 at the Belk Center.

“We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for our theater students to work with some of the amazing artists that come through our area as part of their tour,” Hutteman says. “Last year, we hosted an artist from “Beetlejuice the Musical,” and the students loved it.”

Ayla Hoody, an eighth-grader, has taken theater classes since the sixth grade.

“It’s really exciting and kind of crazy to have these opportunities at Providence Day,” Ayla says. “It’s a chance not many people get to experience, an opportunity that we get. [I liked it when Mr. Overshown said that you should never change yourself for your role because that’s something that happens as an actor. You find yourself getting caught up trying to change who you are to fit someone else’s mold of you.”

Adds Hutteman: “It is good for the students to hear about the artist's particular path to success, get tips from them about how they might succeed in their own journeys, and get inspiration from a theater professional.”

collage of photos from  auditioning tips and advice from traveling production of Moulin Rouge