From Audience Member to Acting Student

Tania Thompson
 | Nov 29, 2018

A Christmas Carol Inspires Rachel Stossel (and Her Mom)

Christine and Rachel Stossel with Scrooge

​Christine and Rachel Stossel 

The house lights dimmed and a swell of music wafted through the Segerstrom Stage. It was November 2017 and Rachel Stossel and her mother, Christine, were at South Coast Repertory to see A Christmas Carol for the first time. Its magic stunned, charmed and inspired—and within a week, Rachel enrolled in the Theatre Conservatory including Summer Acting Workshop and regular year classes. And came to see A Christmas Carol again in 2018.

There’s a Lot to Love About A Christmas Carol

“I loved the show last year!” Rachel, now a second-year acting student, confesses. “I think that this year, I paid more attention to the acting, rather than the simple entertainment of the show. The way the actors talked, the subtle similarities between the many characters played by the same actor and what they did to make that character their own—all things I didn't notice last year!” 

Her mom, Christine, equally fell in love with the iconic holiday show.

“I didn't know what to expect, but I certainly didn't think I'd be laughing and cheering from the audience,” she says. “I immediately was swept up by Hal Landon Jr. And, boy, was I excited to find out why the whole audience was wearing red scarves!”

Seeing the show again this year, Christine found herself “blown away” by Landon and the cast and discovered that she couldn’t help but like Ebenezer Scrooge, even in his “Scroogiest” moments. Even more special, this year she watched her daughter watch the show, “sitting forward in her seat, her eyes moving from character to character, studying the stage. I’d have to say that she was enthralled.”

Finding Confidence and New Depths in Acting Class

Rachel talks about her acting classes—all the time. She gives a shout-out to teacher Kristina Leach, who is encouraging and makes class fun by creating and using games for the acting topic of the day.

“She makes the things we need to learn a lot more fun, so it sticks in our heads,” Rachel says. “She tells us, ‘You’re all geniuses,’ on a regular basis and that keeps our self-esteem high, which is important to us.”

A love of acting wasn’t new for Rachel, says her mom. But SCR’s approach to acting classes was the key: a focus on teaching acting techniques instead of simply assigning roles and lines of script.

“Rachel finds something in her classes at SCR that's hard to define,” Christine explains. “She seems more centered and definitely more confident. But she also seems more interested in other people and more connected than she was before, and that's been helpful in all areas of her life.”

For Rachel, SCR is summed up in one word: “Amazing.” 

What Matters

Christine has seen how acting classes are having an impact as Rachel learns and grows.

“I’m most grateful for the confidence she's gained, the place she's found at SCR and the sense of both belonging and responsibility that comes with that,” she says. “And I love to see the joy and pride on her face when she's talking about her classes.”

Rachel came to SCR to learn to act—to really learn the craft. Last month, when her class did its end-of-session demonstrations (a showcase of what they’d learned), Christine was floored to see what Rachel and the other students had learned in just that one 10-week session. Rachel has gained a lot so far—and the future looks bright.

Winter acting classes for kids and teens start Jan. 8, 2019. Learn more about acting classes in the Theatre Conservatory and enroll.

NOTE: Kids and teen classes are progressive: new students take classes in winter, summer and fall. Spring classes are for returning students only. Adult classes have year-round open enrollment.