Good Acting Involves Layered Performance

Pensacola – Elizabeth Watson feels lucky that she gets to live more than one life.

Watson, a senior at the University of West Florida, is majoring in musical theater. She said acting allows her to lead multiple existences.

“When I’m in a show, I think about only the show. I am 100 percent removed from reality,” she said.

This week, one of Watson’s lives will be lived as Jeannie, an agoraphobic, Dr. Phil-loving housewife in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” Jeannie is one of the lead characters in “Trailer Park,” which critics describe as a combination of “South Park” and “Desperate Housewives.” The theater department at UWF is presenting the production, which will run through Oct. 30, on the Mainstage at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

“What I love about the show is that even though all the characters are over-the-top and goofy,” they all have a moment of humanity that comes through, and the audience can relate to that,” Watson said. “There is a message about the importance of finding the courage to persevere because we are all human. That message makes “Trailer Park” one of my favorite shows I have ever done.”

Watson started singing and acting in the fourth grade and kept it up through middle school. During her first three years of high school, she turned to backstage crafts such as how to build sets and how to run a sound board.

It wasn’t until she played the title role in “Annie” her senior year at Tate High School that she got back in front of the curtain again. She credits her many roles on and off the stage with making her appreciate everything that is required to pull off a production.

“It’s important to be well-rounded,” Watson said. “What would a play be without the sound, the lights, the set, the costumes, the people working backstage and the stage manager calling the cues?”

Since she started studying theater at UWF, Watson said she has improved her skills by “10,000 percent.” She credits the entire faculty of the theater department with her training. She said every one of her teachers works together to make sure actors have a sense of training and fundamentals that build a strong foundation.

“They don’t just give you answers when you ask a question,” Watson said. “They make you think.

Sara Schoch, the director of “Trailer Park,” taught Watson the importance of going through a deep thought process any time she approaches a scene or a piece of music.

“Sara always says, ‘You can’t just play it one way,’” Watson said. “It might be the saddest song in the world, but you have to find moments of joy or some other emotion in it. Performances need to have flavors, layers, colors.”

Show times for “Trailer Park” are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for UWF faculty and staff. UWF students are admitted for free with their Nautilus cards. Call 850-857-6285.

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