I think one of the most magical things about Orlando Family Stage is exposing children at a young age to the arts. We can all recall a time when we first caught the “theatre bug”; be it a theatrical performance we see or getting involved in theatre at a young age. Join me in a conversation with Ben Lowe, Youth Academy alum and Lighting Designer for our current Youth Academy production of Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr.
Ben, can you recall when you caught “the bug”?
The first show I ever saw was at Orlando REP. I came on a Cub Scout field trip when I was about six years old and saw How I Became a Pirate! I remember being blown away by pirates coming from trapdoors, exiting one way and magically entering in a completely different spot. After watching that production, I knew I wanted to be involved! I enrolled in the summer camps at Orlando Family Stage that summer and haven’t looked back since.
I would love to hear more about how you ended up here, working at Orlando REP. Did you imagine as an Undergrad that you would have the chance to work professionally? Did you enter the program with the same interests as now?
Attending the summer camps led me to Youth Academy which ultimately brought me to the Design and Tech Academy where I learned all about the backstage and design world of theatre. When I graduated from the Youth Academy program, I wondered if I would get to come back to Orlando REP. I never thought I’d get to come back as a designer while finishing up school. It’s been so fun being back at Orlando Family Stage and seeing everyone again!
Working at a Professional Theatre, like the Orlando REP, throughout undergrad is a unique opportunity UCF students are given. How do you think your time here has readied you for a career in the arts? What does it mean for your career as an artist to be able to work professionally before graduation?
One of the things about Orlando Family Stage and Youth Academy that I value the most is the professionalism they instill in everyone. At UCF, student designers are assigned faculty members to serve as advisors. Working professionally at Orlando REP, obviously there is no faculty to advise me, but being a student, I still have the resources of my professors- many of whom have designed at Orlando Family Stage before and know the theatres just as well as they know the spaces at UCF!
Mentorship is a huge part of an Artistic Career. They often help us spark big ideas or passions. Is there a mentor at Orlando Family Stage that you can thank for helping you find your passion?
Jennifer Adams Carrasquillo was the director for my first show- Seussical the Musical, Jr. She is also the director for Magic Tree House! All of the DTA teachers, Carrie Kasten Smith, Scott Borish, Dan Davis, and John Rios, were the ones who got me excited and interested in design in the first place. Through Orlando REP, I was also able to meet lighting designer (and fellow UCF alum) Alyx Jacobs who has brought me along for a few shows now, including Cinderella!
I was obsessed with Magic Tree House as a kid. I have a distinct memory of devouring book after book in my 2nd grade teacher’s reading corner. When I heard Orlando Family Stage was doing Magic Treehouse, I felt nostalgia immediately rush back. I’m curious if you had a similar experience. Do you have a connection to this series or another book series? How can we see that influence your design?
I loved the Magic Tree House books growing up and reading about Jack and Annie’s adventures.It was the one of the first book series that I chose to read. I have a very distinct memory of sitting by my door reading several of the books in one sitting. One of my favorite things about Jack and Annie is how their sense of adventure and their dedication to do what’s right and that stays true as they give Mr. Dickens the inspiration he needs to finish writing his book.
Graduation is approaching! Ahh! Are you ready!? It is amazing to see students such as yourself achieve a high level of success and hopefully return back to us to continue to design. How has working at Orlando Family Stage prepared you for a professional career? We are excited to see your journey!
I am so excited for graduation! I am so grateful for everything Orlando Family Stage has taught me and all of the opportunities I have been given. It means so much to me that my first design at Orlando Family Stage is a Youth Academy production.
Ben graduates from the University of Central Florida this spring! Congrats Ben!
Get your tickets for Magic Tree House today!