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Wood pursues dream of being on Broadway

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:56 pm | Updated: 5:01 pm, Wed Nov 6, 2013.

Senior Courtney Wood has always had the drive to succeed as an actress. She is always at rehearsals early. She is the fastest to memorize her lines. She is not afraid to take risks on stage.

Broadway, here she comes.

Wood pursued her goal by taking a year off of school and touring the East Coast with the Berkshire Theater Group, playing a lead role in their production of “Pinocchio.”

Wood has been working with this group for three summers, and when the part became available she was the right fit.

Wood gained this acting experience when she attended Belvoir performing arts summer camp in Lenox, Mass. for many years before starting at Doane and working with Berkshire Theater Group, a top regional theater company.

As a child Wood trained extensively at Belvoir, and became a top actress at the camp. The camp is also what brought her to Doane.

Doane theater professor Robin McKercher and First-Year Adviser Rhonda Lake directed and taught at the camp and worked with Wood, which influenced her decision to come to Doane.

“Rob and Rhonda are the entire reason I came to Doane,” Wood said.

“Courtney was an exceptional student, I knew I had to get her here,” McKercher said. “She’s done great work here.”

McKercher and Lake have watched Wood grow into the actress she is today.

“She’s always had a great deal of confidence,” McKercher said. “But her serious devotion to the craft has increased exponentially.”

Unwavering devotion is what it takes to make it as a professional actress, McKercher said.

Devotion is important, but success cannot come without experience.

Throughout the last year touring, Wood has gained real-world experience and now has an inside look at her future career.

“(I learned about) work ethic,” Wood said. “No matter your personal life, you have to give 100 percent energy.”

Performing the same role for a whole year was not easy. Each day Wood said she had to find something new to inspire her for each night’s performance.

“It’s tricky to do the same role every time, everyday,” Lake said. “That’s not for everybody.”

This is one aspect of professional acting that most college students are not used to. High school and college productions don’t tour for months at a time. Wood’s experience touring has given her a lot of insight into her future career, insight that is extremely valuable, McKercher said; insight that has allowed Wood to share her knowledge with Doane’s theater department.

“She can tell everybody what the experience is like,” Lake said. “She can share her knowledge, that empowers them to go out and do the same.”

Wood’s absence also made room for other Doane students to take the lead, McKercher said.

“(Her absence) didn’t phase the department, it was good for other actresses,” McKercher said. “It created wonderful opportunities, but we missed having her around.”

Wood said she missed her Doane theater family and was excited to return to Doane’s theater department and continue pursuing her degree.

“I couldn’t wait,” Wood said, “I was sad to leave the company-- they asked me to stay on for another year. But a goal of mine is to graduate, and that’s very important to me.”

It isn’t easy to make it on Broadway; it takes a special kind of motivation, McKercher said.

“You work your butt off; it’s really difficult. There’ll be ups and downs,” McKercher said. “But she’ll survive. She’s that tenacious.”

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