Woodford Theatre Young Artist Class of 2019.2020 Seniors

Hannah Browning

1.I have been a member of WTYA for three and a half years.

2. I will be attending Webster University to earn a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts.

3. I have so many WTYA memories I love because there have been too many joyous dance parties, classes, meals, hype circles, warm-ups, trips, and showcases to count, but one of my favorites is one from JTF 2020. It’s SUPER silly, but highlights the true heart, support, and generosity of this group so well. At the Junior Theatre Festival, Playbill had a raffle set up where they were going to give signed Broadway show posters away. I usually don’t ever enter these things because my winning record is not high, but when I laid my eyes on a GORGEOUS Cher Show poster signed by my hero, Stephanie J. Block, I knew I had to give it a shot. Every student was given three starting tickets to drop in the raffle, and then you could play games to earn more. I jokingly mentioned at dinner one night that if anyone didn’t care about their tickets then I would happily use them, but this wonderful group of humans so seriously started coming up and giving me each of their sets of tickets. Some even played games so they could give me more chances. I couldn’t believe it. Long story short, I won, and when the Playbill representative called my name, our entire group ERUPTED in screams and applause. It was like we had just won the Super Bowl! I wish I had that moment on camera. I’ll never forget the kindness and selflessness everyone displayed to help ME get something as ridiculous as a poster, just because they knew I wanted it so badly. When I look at the poster now, I think of how grateful I am for every person in this group and everything they have done for me.

4. My time with WTYA has truly shaped me into the artist and human that I am, and the most important lesson I have learned about myself from my time in the group is how much I grow when I am disciplined and vulnerable in my work. Each of our extraordinary instructors have continually engrained this idea into our training, and it can be seen most when examining the many positive differences between where each member was when they started the year, and where they are now. This concept has transformed my art, and I believe it will continue to do so.

Jacob Ernst

1. I’ve been in WTYA for 3 years.

2. I’m going to the University of Kentucky on a full ride with a double major in Journalism and Theatre and a Pre-Law Track.

3. My favorite memory is meeting Caissie Levy.  But also I would say the whole process of Frozen Jr. I loved the role of Hans and getting to play him in over 20 shows was one of the greatest joys of my life.  I also loved interacting with kids before and after the show even though I wasn’t many kids’ favorite character.

4. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a leader and I love being a leader. This year being Student Director/Education Intern I had a lot more pressure on me.  But I’ve loved being the student leader throughout this year. Directing and leading was something I’ve always had an interest in, but this year made me realize I have a passion for it.


Bella Mancuso

1. I have been in WTYA for 5 years! (Bella is an original, founding member of WTYA)

2. I am attending Belmont University for Musical Theatre

3. My favorite memory from WTYA is getting to go to New York! I loved getting to travel with my favorite group of people and spend time with them in a city that holds so much of what we all love: theatre. Getting to see shows like Come From Away and Once on This Island with WTYA, performing on a stage in the heart of NYC, getting feedback from professionals in the field, and exploring the city was so memorable and such a good experience! It was also a plus that my 16th birthday happened to be during the trip, so I got to spend my sweet 16 in a city that I love with people that I love.

4. What I have learned about myself from WTYA is that I am allowed to fail. Failing is a big part of the artistic process, and I have realized that the only way to create truly good art is through failures. WTYA provides a safe space where failing is ok and encouraged. What better time to fail and grow than in front of the people you consider family? The WTYA staff and students are always there for support and a helping hand when things go wrong and they teach you how to better yourself and problem solve.