‘Never stop dreaming’

Caleb Workman
By Caleb Workman October 24, 2014 11:27

‘Never stop dreaming’

Sean Sennett sings during his West Side Story performance at the Olde Walkerville Theatre on Sunday Oct. 19. (Photo by Vanessa Shields)

Sean Sennett sings during his West Side Story performance at the Olde Walkerville Theatre on Sunday Oct. 19. (Photo by Vanessa Shields)

When it comes to theatrical protégés people around the world don’t look to Windsor for big stars. A performer hopes to change that.

Sean Sennett, studying drama and communication at the University of Windsor, has been acting for four years and recently starred in Arts Collective Theatre’s first production West Side Story. Sennett said after the experience he had with the production, he knows it is his future.

“This is all I want to do,” said Sennett. “I just want to perform. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Sennett said he started to take his first steps into the drama world in 2010, when his vocal teacher Kathy Costa encouraged him to take part in some of the plays she was producing. His first performances were in the productions of Into the Woods, Seussical and Oliver. He was also involved in a production of Hairspray to gain more experience in dancing.

“I have a feeling that he is going to find a career as a performer,” said Costa, after seeing her student in West Side Story.

Last year Sennett took part in one of his first serious roles in Theatre Alive’s Les Miserables as Courfeyrac, the play’s Casanova. He was also the understudy of Marius Pontmercy, a lead role in the play.

With Sennett’s previous experience in theatre he said he felt ready to take on the challenge of West Side Story’s lead role, Tony.

“One main thing I wanted to do with Tony was make him my own. I didn’t go on YouTube and search up other versions of Tony,” said Sennett. “I wanted to do it how I could do it, not how others have done it.”

Sennett said all of the actors stayed in character, at all the times, which helped him become the best Tony he could be.

“You were the character, you weren’t you,” he said. “Chris Rabideau, the director, only treated us as our character. Our real names were non-existent.”

Sennett said he has never put so much time into a production but it was worth it in the end. He said he spent about 24 hours a week doing rehearsals for four months, plus the time he spent at home and with his co-star.

Miya Morris, a student at Vincent Massey Secondary School, preformed as Maria in the play. She said she wouldn’t trade her experience with Sennett for anything.

“It was truly amazing. We became friends really fast, which made me more comfortable doing our scenes,” said Morris. “It was truly an honour to be on stage with such a talented actor.”

Sennett said Rabideau forced the relationship between Tony and Maria more than any other aspect of the play, but it was more fun than a task.

“One of the first things Miya and I did was not how most people get to know each other,” said Sennett. “Chris Rabideau brought us up behind the balcony prop and had us put blindfolds on, put us on opposite sides of the room, spun us around then said, ‘Find each other.’”

In this production of West Side Story Sennett believed that Tony and Maria needed to fall in love, and because they did, the play was believable and enjoyable for the audience.

“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this production is to never stop dreaming,” said Sennett. “Six years ago I went to see West Side Story with my aunt and grandma. Now, six years later, my aunt and grandma got to see me as Tony.”

Sennett said he believes drama can positively influence everybody’s life, as it did for him.

“Drama brings out the best in anyone,” said Sennett.

Sennett said he encourages everyone the least bit interested in theatre to get involved. He said people involved in the drama community are the “nicest people.” This positive influence from the community makes other people better from being around them. He said approaching and speaking to people becomes much easier.

“I have so many plans for myself and auditions I’ve been invited out to,” said Sennett. “Nothing is set in stone though right now. I’m going to eventually audition for plays at the University of Michigan’s music theatre and I’m going to audition for the University of Windsor’s BFA program for acting.”

Sennett said his main goal is to get into a place like New York, or Stratford, Ontario.

“I’ll do anything to grab the goal that’s only an extra inch away.”

“This is the best experience I’ve ever had,” said Sennett. “It’s changed my life and I can’t be more grateful for the opportunity.”

Caleb Workman
By Caleb Workman October 24, 2014 11:27

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