With our 40th Anniversary Season comes many bittersweet moments as we say goodbye to a full class of seniors and celebrate their time at Imagination Stage. This year, we have twelve graduating seniors. This special group has truly grown up within the walls of Imagination Stage, spreading joy and laughter the whole way. Join Senior Gretchen “Rozie” Hoff as she chats with her fellow graduating seniors about their experience at Imagination Stage and what’s next to come. First up in this six-part series are Conall Sahler and Alexa Goldstein!

Conall as Prince Eric in the IStage Performance Ensemble’s 2019 production of The Little Mermaid JR. Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Conall Sahler is 17 and a senior at Sherwood High School. He started at Imagination Stage through the Actor’s Toolbox workshop when he was in 7th grade. In the years following, Conall became an active part of the Imagination Stage teen community. Starting with the IStage Performance Ensemble (ISPE) in the spring of his 7th grade, Conall has been a part six ISPE productions, most recently playing Harry Bright in Mamma Mia! He also graduated the Acting Conservatory class of 2017, after performing in Snow Angel. Conall is in his second year as VP of Membership for the IStage Teen Council. When asked what his fondest memory at Imagination Stage is, he responded “my final before-show circle.” After years of learning at Imagination Stage, now preparing to enter his next chapter in life, his biggest takeaway is to “take chances on people and get to know someone who you wouldn’t normally get to know.”

Conall in the Acting Conservatory’s Snow Angel. Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Conall plans to start this fall at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and will be working toward a Theatre and Performance BFA. Growing up exposed to theatre helped Conall realize his dream job, which is to do anything related to the stage, especially acting. He hopes Imagination Stage keeps creating high quality shows and opportunities for teens through the Conservatories and ISPE. You can’t underestimate the power a student feels while being a part of a show they’re proud of.

Conall with fellow graduating seniors Jake Gee and Nick Stonesifer in the IStage Performance Ensemble’s 2020 production of Mamma Mia! Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Now for a few words from Conall himself! To his fellow seniors: “The connections I’ve made to my fellow seniors has been something like no other. I truly love them each individually as if they were my family. I would do anything for them and will enjoy seeing all that they accomplish in life.” To next year’s seniors: “Keep doing your thing. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop being who you are. I know that sounds cheesy but being genuine to who you are is key to making sure everyone around you feels welcome and included.”

To prospective teens: “You won’t regret auditioning for ISPE or Conservatory. I was once brand new to Maryland and to Imagination Stage. I took a risk and auditioned for the Acting Conservatory and have met my favorite people on planet earth. I couldn’t recommend anything more.” Lastly, Conall would like to thank his role model: “Thank you Nikki Kaplan for always believing in me and making sure that I always felt included in everything I’ve done with Imagination Stage. Thank you also to all the casts and crews I’ve been able to work with over the past 5 years. Each show was so special and holds a dear place in my heart.”

Alexa as a Leading Player in the IStage Performance Ensemble’s 2018 production of Pippin. Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Alexa Goldstein is 17 and a senior at Walter Johnson High School. She started at Imagination Stage in camp the summer before 4th grade, then took her first IStage class the following year! Alexa went on to perform in two years of Speak Out on Stage, six productions with ISPE, and graduated from IStages’s Acting Conservatory. Credible roles from Alexa’s time at Imagination Stage include Frida Jenson in Snow Angel and Leading Player Trio in Pippin.

Alexa in the IStage Performance Ensemble’s 2020 production of Mamma Mia! Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Her favorite show to be a part of was Snow Angel because her group had all been working together in Acting Conservatory for two years, and the deep connections and friendships definitely transferred to the stage. Her fondest memories of her time here are the pre-show cast circles when “we talk about how much we love each other and have enjoyed working together! It really brings the whole process together!” The most prevalent lesson Alexa learned as an Imagination Stage student was how much more is accomplished when a group collaborates.

After graduation, Alexa plans to dual major in theatre and psychology at Northwestern University. She’s not entirely sure what her dream career is yet, but she loves the idea of working in theatre or theatre education. Growing up, theatre was always a safe space for her, and she wants to be able to pass that on to others. When it comes to the future of Imagination Stage, Alexa hopes “that every theatre kid has such an amazing group of people to work with and learn from just like we all did growing up.”

Alexa and Conall with Nikki Kaplan, Associate Director of Education, as well as fellow seniors Jake Gee, Emma Rosenberg, and Eli Kales. Photo by Jeremy Rusnock Photography.

Now what’s better than advice from an experienced alumna? Alexa’s advice for prospective teens: “Putting yourself out there is so scary, but the confidence you will gain from knowing you took a chance is extremely rewarding. Take a chance and try something new!” To rising seniors: “Remember to breathe and know that some moments can be stressful, but you will get through them!”

Alexa also has some thank you’s: “I love all my IStage friends so much! You all shaped my life and were there with me through every phase of growing up. I’m so sad to be leaving, but I know we’ll all have the best memories from IStage!” She’d also like to thank “Nikki and everyone at IStage for fueling my love of theatre! A big thank you as well to my amazing friends – I love you all. :)”

About Imagination Stage Teen Programming
Imagination Stage provides a rigorous training ground for teen performers through our classes and camps. As students mature and gain greater facility in their craft, Imagination Stage takes them from technique to production through advanced training in Conservatories and Ensembles. Beyond the classroom, we have many opportunities for teens to engage with us as leaders and volunteers!

To learn more about Imagination Stage performance opportunities contact Nikki Kaplan, Associate Director of Education, at [email protected] For more information about the IStage Teen Council and volunteer opportunities, contact Jeff Sachs, Education Associate, at [email protected] 

 

 

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