In fact, Adrian Smith, 27, who will play Arthur said he has not been able attend any rehearsals for “Camelot” to see how David Pittsinger has been portraying the character this season.
“I haven’t even seen his character,” he said. “I was happily forced to not copy him and to do my own thing and figure things out.”
Chiang said it is kind of interesting because unlike the main performers, the Young Artists already have an established relationship because they live and work together all summer.
“They are kind of crafting new relationships, while we are sort of feeling out how our friendships translate to the stage. It almost gets more personal,” he said.
The Young Artists said the program has helped them gain experience, meet people in the industry they would not otherwise get to meet and enables them to step out of their comfort zones.
“We have a safe space for trying new things” said Apostolou, who likes to experiment with doing things she has never tried before.
“If we fail miserably, we know not to do it again and it isn’t happening on the world stage,” she continued.
This marks the 25th anniversary of the company’s Young Artists Program and this year’s group has been working with Julie and Nathan Gunn, who joined the company as artists in residence. Each year an artist in residence joins the company for the entire summer and is fully integrated into the Festival, serving as a coach and mentor to the Young Artists, as well as performing in a mainstage production and concert. Deborah Voigt inaugurated the role, followed by Eric Owens.
The Young Artists Program keeps growing, but according to its director Michael Heaston, the Festival generally accepts 36 to 40 participants. This year he said there are 28 singers, eight singer/dancers, two pianists and four stage directors.
Heaston said the program has one of the best reputations in country and he generally gets about 1,100 applications. It’s a rigorous process, said Heaston, who has to eliminate those seeking acceptance to just 350 before anyone even receives a live audition.
“You have to be very, very special to get here,” he said.