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Guest Blogger: What Theater Taught Me

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suebBy Guest Blogger Sue Gillespie Booton

Theater has been a part of my life my entire life.  Not born into a “theater family,” I was born with the DNA to create and perform.  Thankfully, my parents supported this part of me and enrolled me in dance and drama classes as a young child.  I went on to participate in theater in high school, then become a professional actor and dancer, touring all over the country and the world. 

Today, I serve as The Rose’s director of musical theater education, BROADWAY at The Rose, as well as Resident Choreographer and Actor.  Many academic and life skills brought me to the stage as a professional.

Being a success on the stage begins with listening and watching.  Listen to how others speak.  Practice using your voice in different ways.  Listen to director and know how to follow directions.  Watch how others move and learn to move your body similarly.  I learned long ago to watch and listen how others successful in the field are working and responding to situations.  Listening and watching….a life skill so many of us must use!

Theater teaches you  to work with all kinds of people from different backgrounds, social economic situations, races and genders.  Theater is a picture of the human condition and it is our responsibility as actors and theater educators to represent the human race with grace and truthfulness on the stage.   This happens when those in the theater are empathetic and educated.

Time management becomes a necessary skill early on in your theater education.  I learned to take responsibility for my time, homework, and family responsibilities as a ten or eleven year old.  Time management, schedule keeping, and being on time is crucial in theater.

Academic skills begin with reading.  Theater puts reading at your fingertips and offers you endless ways to improve your comprehension skills.  Being an actor is like being a business as your ARE your business.  To be successful, you must have stellar computer and marketing skills to continue getting the word out to directors and producers about you.  Knowledge about reading and negotiating contracts is necessary for all your individual jobs, and math and tax skills are needed because you ARE your own business.  The acting is part of it. But a stage performer is so much more, and you cannot survive without all the other skills.

As the Musical Theater Education Director, BROADWAY at The Rose, I work to offer the best musical theater training in acting, voice and dance for my students ages 3-18.  Some wish to pursue a career on the stage, many do not. But all are given the skills and information about the life and academic skills necessary to be on the stage.  All will take those amazing skills lovingly taught to them in their youth into their adulthood and I promise you it DOES help them succeed.  It can and HAS set them apart from their professional peers.

Many successful stage performers I have worked with have been some of the most intelligent people I’ve known. Some have remained performers, while others have chosen to move onto other careers in computers, business, banking, and medicine. 

I almost left theater after an injury and was accepted at the top of my class at Creighton Law. However, I did not attend, as I found out I could heal my injury and my passion was with the theater. For today, this is where I’ll stay. For most importantly, theater has taught me confidence and to be honest with who I am, and work hard to achieve my passion.


Sue Gillespie Booton has been The Rose’s Resident Choreographer for 12 years, creating choreography for How I Became a Pirate, Disney’s High School Musical, Disney’s High School Musical 2, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Pinkalicious-The Musical, and Peter Pan-The Musical, just to name a few. Her Rose stage credits include Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Disney’s Mary Poppins, Disney’s Tarzan, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, How I Became a Pirate, and Pinkalicious-The Musical. She was recently awarded the “Best Director” award at the regional Access Broadway convention as well as nominated for the jazz piece “Queen Medley.” Additionally, she was nominated for Omaha Entertainment Awards “Best Choreography” for both Disney’s High School Musical and Disney’s High School Musical 2 and was awarded “Best Choreography” for her pieces “Crawl,” “Sucked Under,” and “Wipeout” from regional conventions Showbiz, Access Broadway, and Dance Olympus.

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