Interview By Tracy Dietlin

The Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre Conservatory will kick off the expanded 2016-2017 educational season with two Open Houses, so prospective students can meet the instructors and find out about the unique educational opportunities the CVRep Conservatory has to offer. Located in the Atrium in Rancho Mirage, the first Open House will be held on Sunday, September 11 from 11:00AM to 12:30PM for children/teens and 1PM to 3PM for adults. A second open house will be held Thursday, September 15, from 4:00PM to 6:00PM for children/teens and from 6:30PM to 8:30PM for adults.

The CVRep Conservatory has expanded the class offerings with the addition of four new instructors and classes. New classes include Acting For Teens, Musical Theatre Audition Preparation Interpretation, and Singing for Actors. This is in addition to the continuing programs: Theatre Kids, Scene Study, Writing for Performance and Longform Improv.

The CVRep Conservatory Open House will provide the opportunity to meet the teacher for each of these classes, gain an insight into the content and goal for the class, and have questions answered in order to discover which offering best suits one’s inspirations and expectations.

CVRep Conservatory offers the unique program for a student to experience the joy of studying theatre arts with enthusiastic, professional instructors. Each of the instructors has professional experience in New York theatre and/or in Los Angeles film and television.

The early session of each open house will focus on the children’s classes: Theatre Kids (3rd -8th grade)with Jane Fessier and Acting for Teens (ages 14-19) with Judith Chapman. The second session each day will feature Vocal Technique with Nanci Sorin Collyer, Musical Theatre Audition Preparation Interpretation with Sal Mistretta, Scene Study with Jim Spalding, Scene Study with Peter Hajduk, Writing for Performance and Longform Improv both taught by Andy Harmon. The classes begin the week of October 3, 2016.

Referring to the CVRep’s Conservatory and the value it presents to students, CVRep Artistic Director Ron Celona, points out: “The results of GOOD acting, singing and writing comes from working with good teachers, mentors and other like-minded artists. It is CVRep’s goal to support and nurture our community to bring their best work into their lives, and which I believe will help them in all aspects of life.”

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet the teachers and discover the class offering that fulfills your artistic aspirations. CVRep Conservatory is located at The Atrium in Rancho Mirage; 69930 Highway 111, Suite 107. For more information, please call the Box Office at 760-296-2966 or email info@cvrep.org.

The CVRep Conservatory is an integral part of the CVRep Theatre (www.cvrep.org), a nonprofit professional theater company. It is the only theater in the Coachella Valley that has Small Professional Theatre (SPT) status with Actors’ Equity and it is dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional live theater and entertainment to the Coachella Valley.

Right before press time CV Weekly had the opportunity to do a phone interview with Judith Chapman, who will be teaching the teenage class. Chapman is best known for the dynamic soap opera characters she has played such as Gloria Bardwell on The Young & the Restless and Angelica Deveraux on Days of our Lives, but lately she has been doing live theatre with much of it being performed right here in the desert.

“In the last year and a half I’ve done five plays; either acting or directing, and after I did ‘The Outgoing Tide’ with Michael Fairman, who played Jeanne Cooper’s husband Murphy on Young & the Restless, I decided I just needed to take a break. So I wasn’t going to do anything for a while. And everybody is taking me at my word Tracy. The phone has not been ringing,” laughed Chapman.

“When Ron (Celona, Artistic Director of CVRep) called me I said ‘I don’t know,’ but he’s done such an outstanding job with that theatre that I couldn’t say no. So I’m thrilled to be teaching for CV Rep.”

“Years ago I taught at College of the Desert. I was mostly living in my house in LA, but I decided one day to just take a break from Hollywood and moved down to my house in Palm Springs. I really loved it here and since I was going to be a fulltime resident I thought I needed to do something here. So I went to the college and talked to them and they marched me right over and signed me up to start teaching. And it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was a great way to recharge my batteries, but I discovered I had a gift for teaching and that I did have a lot to share; a lifetime of knowledge and experience. It also gave me a passion for directing. And that was over 20 years ago. Then I taught for a while at MTU at the Rancho Mirage High School,” added Chapman.

I asked Chapman how she feels about teaching the teenage group for CV Rep and if she asked for that group or was chosen.

“I love working with teenagers. I think it just made sense because I had taught at the college and the high school. Not being a mother and having children of my own it has given me a great opportunity to work with young people. And what I found out is they are like sponges. And when you build a trusting relationship with them they really open up; whether it’s teaching them the technical aspects of acting or just getting them to be comfortable in their own skin.”
I asked Chapman if she misses being on TV and in movies while she’s been doing theatre.

“I love the fantasy of walking on a sound stage. Years ago when I auditioned for Y&R I remember walking on to the stage and inhaling and there was this smell; not good, not bad, just a smell, and I took it all in and said to myself ‘ah, I’m at home.’ I recently just auditioned for a movie and I’m waiting to hear back.”
I asked her if she preferred film and TV or live theatre.

“It’s really hard to say. I love doing live theatre but when I was touring America for 4 years doing “Vivien” I remember having this feeling of dread come over me thinking that I had to do it again, but when the lights went down and it started it was okay. You have to keep things fresh with live theatre because that’s the one time people are going to see your performance and you want to give them their money’s worth. So to answer your question,” she continues laughing, “I have to say I love them both.”

I asked what else she enjoys doing when she’s not acting, directing or teaching.

“Well this last weekend I worked in my garden, taught yoga and I’m getting ready to watch all of Season 6 of Downton Abbey,” shared Chapman. “It’s been really nice. I’m just taking time and figuring out who I am. (laughing) Right now I’ve got 3 tons of gravel in my driveway that I’m going to go mess around with and do some more pruning in my garden.”

But don’t expect her to take too much time away from acting.

“Every time I go back to teaching, especially the young ones, it really does recharge my batteries and helps me find my passion again. And it makes me want to act again.”

We talked about her possible return to Y&R where her character Gloria is currently on hiatus.

“We’ll see. Anything is possible.”

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