SMTI Senior Session: Q&A with Student Jacob Clanton

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It’s that time of the year when the Arkansas Repertory Theatre reverberates with the sound of song and the walls shake from dancers’ leaps in the rehearsal studio above. It can only mean that the Summer Musical Theatre Intensive Senior Session is in full force, prepping for a new production of Godspell, opening Friday, July 18.

One of the many senior students taking to the stage is the very talented Jacob Clanton, 18, a recent graduate of Conway Christian High School.  Jacob plans to continue his theatrical endeavors when he begins college just a couple of hours away at the University of Memphis this fall.

We had the chance to talk with this longtime SMTI student about his experience with the summer program, his future goals and why other theatre students should be a part SMTI.

Here is what he had to say:

When did you get started in theatre? I started around the age of 12 at Vacation Bible School and started the Summer Musical Theatre Intensive program when I was 13. I’ve been a part of it for six years.

How has SMTI enhanced your theatrical performing? When I first started, I was incredibly shy– I loved to sing and act but I didn’t really have any confidence in that. But throughout my middle school and high school career, Nicole and the rest of the SMTI team have really brought that out of me– brought out that confidence and that stamina that I need, especially during that time in middle school and high school when you’re trying to figure out who you are. I grew to know myself as a performer and also as a person, which kind of helped me bring myself to the stage, as well as to an audition setting.

There are quite a few students in SMTI. Do you think you will have any lasting friendships from the program? Definitely. One of the things that this program has opened me up to is interning here at the theatre, which led to working backstage during the MainStage season. One of the productions I helped with was White Christmas, where I was a dresser with another SMTI alum, Angela Morgan. We grew really, really close during that– she’s one of my dearest friends. I have many others who I could talk about, but she’s my closest. I will definitely remain friends with her through college.

You’ve been rehearsing for last few days for the upcoming performances of Godspell this weekend. What role will you be playing?  I’m playing John the Baptist, so I get this rock song that opens up the show and sheds a little hope to the stage.

What are some other productions people might have seen you in the last few years? I was most recently in a production of Into the Woods at the Conway Dinner Theater. It was a smaller production but it was a lot of fun– I had a great time doing that. I also participated in the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater a few years ago in Big River. I was actually an understudy in that, which was awesome but incredibly difficult. Additionally, when I was 16, I did Les Misérables at the community theater in Benton.

What are your future goals in theatre? My plan is to join a touring company or maybe move to New York City and try to get work there. I’d really like to become a part of a touring company, though, because I really like to travel and I think it would be fun. But, honestly I really want to do what I love no matter where that may be, even if it’s in some rinky dink theater on the edge of the coast. I’m perfectly OK with that.

Why do you think other theatre students should be a part of this program? This program is kind of home. Everyone is very passionate and strives to get better. We thrive on everyone’s energy and talents and that’s really something important to me. It’s just a really nice environment for people to be in and I always recommend auditioning because it’s a great program.

Are you interested in becoming an instructor in the future? Last year, I did SMTI Select with the 10-year-olds. I think maybe down the road, I might try. We’ll see!

See him in this weekend’s productions of Godspell, alongside many other talented students! Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to get your tickets for any one of the performances, which are at 7 p.m. Friday, July 18, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19.

Break a leg, Jacob!

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