The Bethany Area Repertoire Theater (BART) has been providing stage performances to the area for three years, and last week the theater company’s goal of funding scholarships for area students bore fruit.
BART awarded scholarships to three students, all recent graduates from Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, during a ceremony at BART’s home stage at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville on Friday, July 23.
Robert Ravida, chairman of BART’s scholarship committee, said BART’s intention from the beginning was always to fund arts scholarships with the proceeds from ticket sales for its plays, which are performed on the Dickinson Parlour Theatre stage by an ever-growing group of volunteers from within the community.
“Once we realized there was some black ink, we sat down to decide what to do with it,” Ravida said. The group came up with the goal it calls “20 by 20” — funding scholarships for 20 local students by the year 2020. The scholarship committee received applications from all over Sussex County, but ultimately the three winners were all graduates of one school — Cape Henlopen High School. Each winner received $1,000.
The winners are all pursuing college degrees in different areas, though — one will study theater, one will major in journalism and one is pursuing a degree in music education.
Aaron Latta-Morissette will head to the New York Film Academy in the fall. Although he is just beginning his formal education in on-camera acting, Latta-Morissette is already a veteran actor with an IMDb (Internet Movie Database) entry.
Having appeared in every play the Cape Henlopen theater program has produced during his high school years, Latta-Morisette said theater teacher Martha Pfeiffer instilled in him a sense of professionalism.
Plays he appeared in included “The Crucible,” “Of Mice and Men” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Last year, Latta-Morissette won Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor in Delaware for his role in Cape’s production of “The Zoo Story.” He said he considers himself “really, really lucky” to have had the chance to learn the craft of acting in Cape Henlopen’s program.
On-camera work appeals more to Latta-Morissette than stage work, he said, because it will allow him to bring joy to more people. The son of a therapist, he said his mother’s work has inspired him to help people.
“It’s really important to me that my life has an impact as well,” he said.
Marissa McCloy will be heading to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., this fall to pursue a degree in journalism and graphic design. McCloy worked on Cape Henlopen’s school newspaper, Viking Ventures, for most of her high school career, eventually taking the helm as editor.
McCloy said she enjoys the team effort of working on a newspaper, but that she particularly enjoys the editing process itself.
“I like taking something and improving it,” she said, admitting, “I’m a perfectionist.”
She said she feels her experience on Cape’s newspaper staff have prepared her well for college. She has written, edited and designed the paper, as well as serving as photographer. Although she enjoyed all those jobs, McCloy said her favorite job was editor.
“I like organizing the whole thing,” she said. The newspaper also has its own website, so McCloy already has experience in multimedia journalism.
In addition to her journalism experience at Cape, McCloy was also captain of the school’s dance team, and a member of a competitive dance team and of the school’s tennis team.
Morgan Hurlock has sharpened her musical chops as a high school student and is looking forward to further study at the University of Delaware in Newark to follow in the footsteps of those who have fostered her own love of music.
Hurlock said she is particularly grateful Cape band director Chris Burkhart, who introduced her to jazz music. A saxophone and clarinet player, Hurlock said she is particularly drawn to jazz from the 1940s, counting Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Johnny Hodges as her favorites. “Johnny Hodges is, like, my man,” she said.
Hurlock played lead alto sax for the Delaware State Jazz Ensemble. She also was named outstanding soloist at a Temple University competition. Among her professional experiences at such a tender age was a chance to play an improvised solo alongside drummer and recording artist Sheila E. at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival.
She said she is looking forward to furthering her passion at U.D. “I’m already studying with [U.D. saxophone professor] Todd Grimes,” she said.
All three students received warm applause at the Dickens Parlour Theatre presentation.
“The fine arts are in good hands if these young people are a representation of what’s coming,” Ravida said.