WINTER 2016: Lauren Bowler, Louriza Tronco, Alison Roberts & Ashlie Atkinson

Lauren Bowler
Lauren Bowler

Lauren Bowler
Lauren has performed in Godspell and One Man, Two Guvnors with Arts Club Theatre Company. She pas performed at Chemainus Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre, Carousel Theatre for Young People, Theatre Calgary, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Vancouver Playhouse and more. Presently she is performing in Chelsea Hotel at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria.

Q: Before coming to CCPA did you have a background in
singing, acting, or dancing?
L: All three. My parents and grandparents were musicians; my mom was also my dance teacher. I was involved in theatre throughout school and growing up, I developed a love of theatre, musical theatre, and singing with bands.

Q: Many CCPA grads take what they’ve learned and move onto other things that push the realm of performing arts. You mentioned, for example, the
Leonard Cohen show you’re in now.
L: I think this is representative of the way musical theatre is going now. There are still conventional shows, but there’s definitely more of this concept of actors also being musicians. The skillset of being a multi-instrumentalist is becoming more valuable – not just in musical theatre, but live theatre as well. Doing plays is my new favourite thing!

Q: Is there something from your training at CCPA that stands out?
L: For sure! I learned many skills at CCPA, but something I won’t forget is how important it is to show respect to stage managers and crew members by simply saying thank you. [CCPA Founders] Jacques and Janis taught us about the integrity of being good people in the theatre; otherwise, your career will only go so far.

Q: Is there a different way you go into a show based on whether you’re in the ensemble or you’re the lead?
L: Great question! My first lead with a big company was in Gypsy, but it’s really Mama Rose’s story, so it’s her that carries the show. Later that year, I played Eliza in My Fair Lady and I have to admit, I struggled with carrying that show. I was on vocal rest all day and had no social life, so I found it a bit lonely. Now, though, I’ve done shows that require a huge amount of energy and I feel much better equipped to take them on.

Q: Do you think there’s more opportunity now than when you started? Is there a change in direction you’re going to have to take or do you know that it will always be a challenge and your passion will keep you going?
L: I’m used to the challenges. Now that I’m more established, the opportunities seem to come to me a lot easier. Gigs pop up more frequently from workshopping new shows, to singing with bands, to doing voiceovers. That’s what being a little more established has done. In One Man, Two Guvnors, the director said, “Lauren is the perfect person for this part,” so I got it. The other thing is that now I don’t submit for absolutely everything. There’s a time when you need to do that, but that time isn’t for me anymore. Now I want to be doing deeper, more meaningful work and investing more in myself as an artist. As with any goal, though, I think you pursue it and then at some point ask yourself, “What’s the next thing I’m interested in?”

Q: Do you have any suggestions for our students or recent grads?
L: Be hungry. Keep taking lessons. Talk less, listen more. You also have to have other things that drive you because it gives you more control. I’ve never regretted honouring something else in my life that’s just as important as my career.

Lauren Bowler in Chelsea Hotel (Photo: David Cooper)
Lauren Bowler in Chelsea Hotel
(Photo: David Cooper)

Louriza Tronco
Louriza Tronco

Louriza Tronco

Excerpt from the September 9th, 2015 Edition of the Winnipeg Free Press

By Brad Oswald – For actors seeking success in TV and movies, an early career goal is to land a project that will “make it pop.” For Winnipeg-born performer Louriza Tronco, Make It Pop might actually be that star-making vehicle.

The 21-year-old triple-threat has landed a starring role in the new YTV series, which showcases her talents as a singer, dancer and actor. Make It Pop debuted earlier this year in the U.S., Britain and Australia (and has already been renewed for a second season), so its Canadian première (Wednesday at 9 p.m. on YTV) feels a bit overdue.

“All my friends have been asking, ‘When is it going to come out in Canada?’ and finally it’s going to be on next week,” Tronco says during a telephone interview from Toronto, where Make It Pop’s second season is already in production. “I’m super-proud that Canada finally gets to see it, especially my hometown.”

The colourful, energetic, music-driven series follows three young girls at a performing-arts boarding school who form a band called XO-IQ and, with the help of their DJ friend Caleb, launch a career that extends far beyond the walls of MacKendrick Prep. Tronco plays Jodi Mapa, a 15-year-old fashionista whose talents as a dancer make her a natural for the fledgling pop group.

Promotional materials for the show refer to its music and the girls’ band as “K-Pop inspired,” referring to the South Korean musical genre characterized by its incorporation of audiovisual elements. “It’s such a great production to be a part of because it’s something that involves singing, dancing and acting,” says Tronco, whose performing career began at age seven when she was cast as a mouse in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s annual Nutcracker production. “Most shows don’t have that; there have been a few, like Glee and Smash, but this one is specifically for a younger audience, so the whole family can watch it.”

And in Tronco’s case, having the entire family tune in could mean a large Winnipeg viewership for Make It Pop. “My family’s huge; my mom has 12 siblings, and a lot of them are in Winnipeg,” she offers. “Christmas at our place is really huge.”

Tronco, who attended Sisler High School, calls Vancouver home these days, having moved to the West Coast in order to enrol in the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria. While taking part in the two-year course, she travelled back and forth to Vancouver to audition for parts in movies, TV shows and commercials. The first role she landed was on the spooky CW show Cult (“I had a dying scene,” she says); subsequent screen credits have included the Lifetime movie Behind the Hit: Saved By the Bell, Disney Channel’s Zapped, My Boyfriends’ Dogs and My Life as a Dead Girl, and the big-screen sequel Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb.

After submitting an audition tape for Make It Pop, Tronco waited a full six months before hearing from the show’s producers that they wanted to fly her to Toronto for a second look. Two more callbacks and a final casting call later, she had a part in the series — but not the one for which she’d originally read. “My manager got the audition for me, and she actually had me read for the character Sun Hi, which is Megan Lee’s role, which seems like crazy talk now, because she’s so great at it,” she recalls. “We sent the tape off to L.A., and they said they really liked me, but because of my dance experience, they wanted me to read for (the role of) Jodi instead.”

Since Make It Pop debuted on U.S. cable’s Nickelodeon last April, the show has gained a steady following and XO-IQ’s music has taken on a life of its own, spawning a YouTube channel, colourful karaoke videos and releases on iTunes. “Right now we’re focused on filming the show, but we’re hoping to keep producing music and pursue the band aspect as the show continues, hopefully, into more seasons,” she says.

Alison Roberts
Alison Roberts

Alison Roberts

2011 CCPA graduate Alison Roberts grew up in the musical theatre world in Victoria, BC. She danced from the age of two, performed in choirs and community theatres up to and throughout high school.

When looking at her post-secondary training options, Alison chose to stay close to home. “There’s a mindset that one must travel far and wide, to places like Toronto or the UK to train at a theatre school for a successful career. However, my personal opinion, is that it doesn’t matter what city you train in, as long as you are dedicated, driven and persistent you will be successful in this industry”.

While many incoming CCPA students have a background in one discipline and pick up their skills in the other two, (singing, dancing, acting) Alison felt she had a good head start in all three. “I was at the college more to round out my skills and because I had a pretty good understanding of all the areas, I was able to focus more. I think I was better prepared for CCPA than someone who hadn’t done any major intensive theatre programs, but it was still a shock to my system.” Alison focused her energy on finessing her acting skills, and also focus on the professional side of things, like work ethic.

Originally planning to train for two years at the college, while in her first year of training she auditioned for West Side Story and ended up booking it in January of her first year. “Overall, my five year plan was to continuously work in the theatre industry and to try and work in Toronto and all over Canada. I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished that.” For the past three years, Alison has been travelling back and forth across the country teaching (Alison trains young, budding artists), performing, and auditioning for future roles. “There were a few times when I’d have four auditions in one week in different cities. One time I was in Calgary, and then Vancouver, then Toronto, and then Victoria and back to Vancouver all within the span of a week. It was nuts!”

Alison’s performance credits include Westside Story with the Vancouver Opera, Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg and the upcoming production at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. She performed Spamalot at the Vancouver Arts Club and Singing in the Rain at Port Hope in Ontario. Alison has also worked in numerous dance shows in Vancouver, and assisted with choreography work on short films. One of the short films she worked on, with Jessie and Ovation award-winning choreographer Julie Tomaino, won Video of the Month from New York’s Dance Magazine and was presented in numerous film festivals. Another dance film, called The Waltz, was in the Toronto Short Film Festival. Alison is currently choreographing and directing the musical Bye Bye Birdie for Victoria High School.

Asked about lessons she has learned in a very challenging industry, Alison responds, “I’m huge into accepting yourself, especially in this industry, I went through a period of time trying to fit myself into this image of what I thought the ideal musical theatre performer was, which had unhealthy consequences. What I like to teach is that there’s a place for every single person in this industry, you just have to find your niche and be confident with yourself.”

Ashlie Atkinson as Alexandrine in the Raft of the Medusa

Ashlie Atkinson

2003 CCPA graduate Ashlie Atkinson played the lead female role, Alexandrine D Saint-Martin in the recent world premiere of Raft of the Medusa.

In the past 10 years Ashlie has performed at various summer & community theatres; Gateway Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars (Stanley Park), and was a singer/dancer for Norwegian Cruise Lines. She and her husband have just opened their own performing arts school in Penticton B.C., called Balance School of Performing Arts.