Joshua Myran, Olivia Drury, Mitchell Huntley and Clay Walker
South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory has four graduating seniors—Olivia Drury, Mitchell Huntley, Joshua Myran and Clay Walker—appearing this summer in The Wizard of Oz (Aug 10-18, Julianne Argyros Stage). These young, talented performers are among the most advanced students in the Conservatory and they will all be taking the stage one final time in the Summer Players production of the beloved musical.
Clay Walker – Hunk/Scarecrow
Clay Walker started taking classes at the Conservatory a year ago and is playing Hunk/Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz this summer. As he reflects on the past year, he enjoyed his final Teen Ensemble demo (a demonstration done by students at the end of the session to show --demonstrate--what they have learned for family and friends).
“Not only were we able to give input on the writing, but we were challenged with going out of our comfort zones as actors to effectively tell the story to the audience,” he says.
Clay feels he learned valuable lessons at SCR and feels more comfortable with himself as an actor and in life. He has grown socially and learned how to collaborate with others; he now finds ways to incorporate these skills into other areas of his life. Additionally, he will always remember the friendships he developed in his classes.
As Clay continues to pursue musical theatre at Saddleback College in the fall, he will miss “the SCR teachers who have been so supportive of me in pursuing my craft.” He tells incoming students to “not be afraid of trying new things and taking risks.”
Joshua Myran – Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard
As Joshua Myran heads off to New York University to major in civil engineering this fall, he explains that the SCR Conservatory taught him the importance of collaborating and sharing ideas while working with a group of people. He has enjoyed learning about “listening in character” and “staying present and being there for your scene partner.”
His advice to new students is to not worry about the acting decisions you make and not be afraid to make mistakes because it’s all a part of the process. Joshua has made lifelong friends and feels their support.
“Meeting new people is so much easier for me now,” Joshua admits, with a smile.
In his Teen Players class, he found it challenging to identify a direction of a character, but learned to try different directions and choose the best fit. Dedicated teachers and students are what drew Joshua to take additional SCR classes and audition for shows.
His favorite roles have been Peter Cratchit in SCR’s annual production of A Christmas Carol and a Lost Boy in Peter Pan. Joshua completes his eighth year at SCR with his final performance this summer as Uncle Henry/Emerald City Guard in The Wizard of Oz. “SCR is where I feel comfortable being silly and making mistakes, and I will miss that,” says Joshua.
Olivia Drury – Miss Gultch/Wicked Witch of the West
Oliva Drury takes the stage one more time at SCR this summer as Miss Gultch and Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. “My classes have taught me how to have empathy, listen, and work within an ensemble,” she says.
These lessons also apply to her real life. Oliva says learning Shakespeare at SCR was “so cool! Getting to dig into the language and use the text as a road map was incredibly rewarding.”
Even after taking several years of acting classes at SCR, Olivia kept returning. “There is never stagnation in SCR classes,” she says. “My development always felt very palpable and each new teacher sparked something that made acting more fun.” She will attend Northwestern University in Chicago in the fall to study theatre.
One of Olivia’s favorite memories was being in SCR’s annual production of A Christmas Carol because that show taught her how to work as a professional and helped her realize that she will never stop evolving as an actor. She feels that all her classes helped make her a better person and develop friends that are special to her. “It’s incredible to have a group of people you can feel so vulnerable and safe around,” she notes.
Olivia initially found it challenging to be confident enough to give herself permission to be onstage. It wasn’t until she allowed herself to be "okay with being imperfect" that her confidence grew. She will miss “everybody who made all these years mean everything to me.”
Mitchell Huntley – Professor Marvel/Wizard
Mitchell Huntley has been dedicated to SCR for an entire decade. Although he’s headed off to Northwestern University to study theatre and playwriting in the fall, he has learned many valuable lessons here, including the importance of “having a good work ethic and treating others in a professional setting the way you would want to be treated.”
He attributes to his SCR experience developing self-confidence and being able to articulate his thoughts, which both pushed him out of his comfort zone. So what kept Mitchell coming back for 10 years? His personal growth, the community and the character work. “I felt like I found my place, my community and I was able to express myself. At SCR, the ensemble is the most important thing you can be a part of,” he says.
Even though Mitchell sometimes felt challenged to find similarities and differences between himself and his character, he admits that SCR taught him, through the process of exploring different characters, to play them honestly. He also learned memorable things like animal work and Shakespeare, which helped him become a better storyteller. His advice for new students is “to give it your all, have an open ear and an open mind and trust the process.” Mitchell says he will miss the incredible training he got here and SCR’s focus on his growth and journey as a person.
“It’s a lesson I’ll hold dearly and miss when I leave,” says Mitchell.
Learn more about The Wizard of Oz and buy tickets.
Learn more about taking acting classes at SCR.