Kevin Ray Johnson
In my career, I have performed and worked all over this country. From New York to Alaska I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given. Recently before I moved to New York with my Fiancé, I had the privilege to perform in Florida for close to two years from late 2015 to early 2017. One of the big highlights while living there was having the chance to perform at The Asolo Repertory Theatre in their production of Guys and Dolls directed by Josh Rhodes. I also became the Creative Artistic Advisor and a Board member at Rise Above Performing Arts which is an up and coming children’s theatre company based out of Sarasota Florida. It has (so far) presented The Florida Premiere of The Love Note last year (A show I was in the original Off-Broadway cast of), Children’s Letters to God and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
During my time in Florida, the one thing that stood out was the elite young talent that the South Florida theatre community had to offer. With a lot of them having already started a career on the National level I will say that nothing inspires and excites me than seeing the next generation of theatre performers. Now I could speak for days about the amazing young talent I came across (because there were a lot), here are five that truly stood out to me that you should know and remember five to ten years from now.
Addison Ruscoe – Addison will be performing in the Asolo Repertory Theatres production of Shakespeare in Love. It will be running from January 10th until March 28th, 2018 (www.asolorep.org). I had the chance of working on stage and assistant directing him in several productions during my time in Florida. A fantastic young actor who is truly starting to make a name for himself at the young age of 12. Starting to step in the professional world more and more this young man has a real bright future ahead of him. Some of his credits include – The Florida Premiere of The Love Note (Adam), Ragtime (Edgar), Children’s Letters to God (Kicker) and Into the Woods.
Miranda Wolf – I saw this young soprano first perform in a production of Bye Bye Birdie followed by a production of 42nd Street where she played Kim McAfee and Peggy Sawyer respectively. She has the perfect attitude for this business which is backed up by her amazing abilities onstage. A true triple threat she shows that hard work and dedication pays off. She will be graduating from The Manatee School for the Arts this year and the sky is the limit for this young artist. Miranda has also been featured in SRQ Magazine and has competed for Access Broadway on the Regional (Orlando) and National level being awarded ‘Best Performer’. Some other credits include – Chicago (Roxie), Guys and Dolls (Sarah) and Legally Blonde (Elle Woods).
Judah Woomert – I had the chance to perform in a production of James and the Giant Peach where he played the title role. His enthusiasm towards the theatre business is contagious which is followed by a powerful singing voice. At the age of 13, he is already a veteran in the New York City audition and theatre scene. Judah performed regionally with The Paper Mill Playhouse in their production of A Christmas Story playing the role of Ralphie and recently starred as The Baker in a production of Into the Woods at Rise Above Performing Arts.
Emily Mollin – I want you to think of Christy Altomare & Idina Menzel combined. Now think of that combination in a high school freshman. Emily has a maturity and poise to her on stage that you cannot teach. Currently a freshman in The Booker High School Performing Arts program led by Scott Keys, I had the privilege to work with her in a production of James and the Giant Peach (the same production I did with Woomert), as well as assistant direct a couple of shows she has performed in. I can say with a lot of confidence that she has a very long career ahead of her. Some of Emily’s other credits include Grease (Marty), Children’s Letters to God (Joanna) and 13.
Todd Bellamy II – Todd definitely made his mark on me when I saw him perform in a very powerful production of Howard Richardson’s Dark of the Moon. He is a junior and is also part of The Booker High School Performing Arts program where he recently performed the role of Grasshopper in Pasek and Paul’s James and the Giant Peach. What makes him stand out is his amazing versatility on the stage as well as having the right attitude for this business. Some of Todds other credits include August Wilsons Fences and Grease (Roger). When I see this young man perform I see a lot of James Monroe Iglehart, Kyle Scatliffe, Chuck Cooper & Joshua Henry. This young man is going to go very far.
To learn more about some of the amazing performing arts programs mentioned in this article please visit –
Rise Above Performing Arts – http://riseabovearts.com/
The Booker Highschool Performing Arts Program – www.bookervpa.com
The Manatee School for the Arts – www.msfta.org