» On the podcast: Theatre for reflection, conversation and inspiration with Mill Mountain Theatre

In The Art of It: Conversations on Creativity and Leadership with the Roanoke Arts Commission, we’re focusing our attention on our partners: the arts organizations we fund, the colleagues who help make projects happen, and our leaders thoughtful on the role of the arts and humanities in our lives.

What’s it like for the young professionals undertaking the creative work amidst COVID-19? What do they look to for inspiration?

Check out the conversation with part of the Polkadots team. Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical is now in rehearsal at Mill Mountain Theatre. The digital production will allow the repertory company produce high quality theatre with professional actors, but just in a different form as we deal with COVID-19. The program will be available from Broadway on Demand from September 15 through October 9. 

Polkadots is based on the story of the Little Rock Nine and fictionalizes important lessons from our past as the nation struggled to break through policies of segregation. The performance film will be available for viewing from September 15 through October 9. While the musical was written for elementary-age students, it will appeal to the whole family.

Register to view Polkadots here.
Learn more about the Roanoke Arts Commission.

We talk with Director and Choreographer Christopher Castanho, and cast members of Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical — Alexia Buckner (Lily), Achilles Mulkey (Sky) and Madeline Walker (Ms. Square)– about the role of theatre for reflection and conversation, inspiration and hope. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts, or listen here:

Now's the Time » Virginia Tech's Amanda Nelson on community leadership through the arts The Art of It: Conversations on Creativity and Leadership from the Roanoke Arts Commission

Amanda Nelson leads Virginia Tech's certificate and MFA programs in Arts Leadership and teaches in the theatre department. Much of her work directly and thoughtfully engages students in the world around them. This lively conversation centers on next-level community engagement through the arts, learning from history, and taking collective steps together.  "To me, leadership is a confluence of characteristics and practices rooted in communication, collaboration, innovation, and inspiration," says Nelson. "A lot of people are doing leadership without knowing that they're doing leadership. Maybe that's the magic of the creative arts…"   Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.  Learn more about the Roanoke Arts Commission at http://www.roanokearts.org.
  1. Now's the Time » Virginia Tech's Amanda Nelson on community leadership through the arts
  2. 6. The Power of Passion Ignited » Virginia Commission for the Arts' Janet Starke
  3. 5. Keep learning together » Southwest Virginia Ballet brings The Nutcracker to Blue Ridge PBS
  4. 4. Roanoke Arts Commission's Jeanne Fishwick » City arts funding and the leadership of local organizations
  5. 3. Mill Mountain Theatre's Polkdots Team » Theatre for reflection, conversation and inspiration

About our guests::

Alexia Buckner (Lily) is so happy to be working with Mill Mountain Theatre this summer! She is a recent graduate of the Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University. During her time in school, she was given many opportunities to star in shows as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act, Beneatha Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, and the ferocious Dragon in Shrek the Musical. When she is not onstage, she loves to spend her time in aerial gyms, traveling, and watching Food Network. Follow her @thealexiabuckner to see what else she’s working on! 

Achilles Mulkey (Sky) is thrilled to be spending his first summer at Mill Mountain Theatre! Performer,   instrumentalist, and songwriter originally from NW Arkansas. Favorite credits include: Mr. Mistoffelees (CATS), Giuliano (BIG LOVE), Weasel (CROW AND WEASEL). In his spare time, he enjoys photography, exploring nature, and a good cup of tea. Training: Viterbo University (BFA Music Theatre), RAD Ballet. Special thanks to his family, Kai, and his cats. IG: @achillesmulkey

Madeline Walker (Ms. Square) recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BFA in Musical Theatre and minor in dance. She was a member of MMT’s 2018 Apprentice Company and returned last summer to perform in their Let’s Go to the Movies concert. Madeline enjoys performing at Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando. Theatre UCF credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Miss Single), Hot Mikado (Yum Yum), and Oklahoma! (U/S Ado Annie). MsMadelineMae.com

Christopher Castanho (Director/Choreographer) is a director, educator, and creative originally from Connecticut. Most recently, Christopher co-directed Mill Mountain’s award-winning holiday production of The Sound of Music. He holds his BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory. Prior MMT directing credits include Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr,  A Year With Frog and Toad TYA, The Tempest, Dead of Night, My Fatal Valentine, and program director for the annual Write Stuff! Young Playwright Festival. His adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and original play Mother Goose Tales have both been produced on MMT’s Waldron Stage. Christopher works full-time at Mill Mountain Theatre as their Resident Creative and Teaching Artist.

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Published by Douglas Charles Jackson

Roanoke VA based writer and community coach.

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