Spotlight on Bianca Turner

How long have you been performing on stage? I’ve been performing onstage for six and a half years now. Once on This Island will be my 19th show with Yorba Linda Spotlight and 35th show overall. I started out at a young age doing a lot of print work and commercials when one day my agent recommended I try out musical theatre because she said it would look good on a resume. Reluctantly, I auditioned for my first show ever (which happened to be with Yorba Linda Spotlight). I figured I would absolutely hate it but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I stopped everything else I was doing and decided musical theatre was what I wanted to do. I’ve been at it ever since.

What was your first show with Spotlight? My first show was Alice in Wonderland: the play. I was the Lori Bird in that show, which was actually a pretty big part. I remember being so excited to be a part of the show once we got into rehearsals and to make a ton of friends. Since it was a play, we read sides for the audition. So when auditions for Into the Woods came along, the show following Alice in Wonderland, nine year old me was absolutely shocked to find out we had to sing and ended up performing the only musical theatre song she knew at the time, Castle on a Cloud, for a Sondheim audition.

Why do you like performing in shows with Spotlight? YLSpotlight has always been my second home. I grew up with this company and without it I wouldn’t be the performer or person that I am today. You can always count on Spotlight to treat their performers professionally throughout the rehearsal processes while still giving us the resources and teaching us the skills we need to grow and succeed in our productions. We always do really interesting shows that fit our company well and perform at beautiful venues. More than anything, I love the creative teams at Spotlight. They always treat us as equals and are truly a pleasure to work with.

What is your dream role? Ahh the ultimate question to ask any theatre kid. There’s so many things I could answer this question with, from gender bend dream roles such as Elder Price in Book of Mormon or a dream role that I’ve already been fortunate enough to play, Val in A Chorus Line, but when it comes down to it my ultimate dream role would have to be Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s such a fun show (as I’ve done it twice playing Cora and Mrs. Meers) but I’ve always really related to Millie, as she’s super spunky and she knows what she wants and she goes and gets it. Other roles I would love to play include Carrie White (Carrie), Heather Chandler (Heathers), Natalie (All Shook Up), Ariel (Footloose), Cathy (The Last Five Years), and Pennywise (Urinetown).

Of the roles that you’ve played, which has been your favorite? Val in A Chorus Line was an amazing role to play as she is truly a triple threat so I got to strengthen my singing, acting, and dancing. Gingy in Shrek was really fun as the role is totally over the top an has the best solo ever at the beginning of Freak Flag. Lastly, Ursula will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first big role which been fortunate enough to play twice.

How has Spotlight helped you grow as a performer? Spotlight has helped me grow as a performer in so many ways. I’ve been challenged with a lot of roles that have pushed me vocally to work on expanding my range, both higher and lower. I also started off in musical theatre with two left feet, and I have Spotlight to thank for helping me become a better dancer. I’ve gotten to tap a lot with this company which I love and have got to do some really awesome dancing in productions such as Peter Pan and Once on This Island. Recently, we did a production of Wizard of Oz where I performed as the Wicked Witch. This started out as a huge challenge for me because it was a strictly acting role. Typically, I feel significantly more confident in telling stories when it is through song or dance so having neither of these things to rely on had me nervous. But as the rehearsal process went on I ended up growing a ton as an actor and it actually peaked my interest in straight acting.

What do you like to do when you’re not performing? Honestly… there isn’t really a ton of time for me to do things outside of performing as I’m usually a part of multiple productions at a time and am so heavily involved in the musical theatre program at OCSA. In these past two years I’ve developed a love for directing and choreographing. I’ve been able to do this in some smaller scale productions and hope to have opportunities in the future where I can grow in this. In addition, while this is still technically performing, I’ve recently gotten into straight acting a ton but more specifically on camera. I’ve been able to be a part of some films with FTV at OCSA playing some pretty wild characters and have love it a ton.

What are your strongest and weakest traits as a performer? In the aspect of singing vs acting vs dancing overall, I feel pretty well rounded but in each of the three categories I have my strengths and weaknesses. If I had to give it an order I would say acting is my strongest, then singing, and then dancing. It’s really when you get into the specifics of these where things fall as stronger or weaker. Vocally, I’m a lot weaker when singing in my upper register and stronger when not. When it comes to singing with other people, I do well with the harmonies themselves but need to work on blending my voices with the people around me. Acting wise, I do well with characters that have strong personalities and objectives. It’s hard for me to do roles where the character is just an average person. When it comes to dance I struggle most with tap because I don’t pick up on it quickly. It takes me drilling combinations over and over again to get to, but once I have it I’m set. Character dancing, shows like Tarzan, is what I’m most comfortable with and I enjoy a ton. In anything I do, I think acting needs to be a part of it. I’m never just singing or just dancing, it needs to have the objective and purpose behind it, otherwise it’s boring and pointless.

If you could choose a show for Spotlight to produce, what would it be and why? I would love to see YLSpotlight do Urinetown as a Young Adult production. It has always been a dream of mine to do that show as I’m in love with the music and whacky storyline. I think it would be really cool to have Spotlight do a young adult production of a straight play, as we typically do musicals at this company. Other productions I’d love to see the company put on are A Chorus Line, 9 to 5, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and A New Brain.

Of Spotlight’s past shows, which has been your favorite and why? This is a really tough question, but I think I’d have to go with Peter Pan. The cast was super close from onstage memories of making up our own sign language to offstage memories of watching really interesting Netflix movies and Friends marathons. We even had our own hashtag for the show with photos and tweets from when we hung out. Some very close favorites include Bye Bye Birdie, Into the Woods, and Once on This Island.

Anything else you want to say? I just want to give a big thanks to all the opportunities YLSpotlight has given me. Not only have I been fortunate enough to do so many shows with the company but also work as a camp counselor in their summer camp productions, work as a crew member in a couple productions I haven’t performed in, take a variety of different classes, and perform in various things such as our annual Disneyland event, multiple showcases/recitals, their old winter Glee club, and their musical theatre competition. The opportunities Spotlight has provided me with are endless and I will truly treasure forever. And for anyone out there who has been considering seeing shows here, auditioning for things, taking lessons, or wanting to become a part of YLSpotlight in anyway, go for it! The environment here is fun, loving, professional, educational, and you will absolutely love the memories you make with this amazing company.

Spotlight on Brayden Martino

How long have you been performing on stage?  10 years! I started in 3rd grade when I got cast as “Sherlock Holmes” in Mabel Paine Elementary school’s production of “Geology Rocks!” Ever since then I knew I wanted to keep performing and telling stories through this art. I started performing with Yorba Linda Spotlight 6 years ago.

What was your first show with Spotlight?  Alice in Wonderland, 2010! I played the Knave of Hearts. Since then I have grown so much and really come out of my shell. Once on this Island will be my 16th show with Yorba Linda Spotlight!

Why do you like performing in shows with Spotlight?  The main reason is because I love the people. I’ve made so many amazing lifelong friends in my 7 years of performing with Yorba Linda Spotlight, and so many memories that I will cherish forever. These people have not only made me feel loved and cared about, but they have also inspired me with their talent and allowed me to grow as an actor. Yorba Linda Spotlight also puts on some really high quality shows that I am blessed to be part of! The production team is SO amazing, and never puts on a bad show. They treat us so professionally, and also love and care about us so much, its incredible. Yorba Linda Spotlight will always be my second family.

What is your dream role?  I have a few! I’ve been lucky enough to play some of them already, but here are the ones I have yet to play: Bert in Mary Poppins Shakespeare in Something Rotten! Gomez in The Addams Family Blackstache in Peter and the Starcatcher Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast There are also TONS of other roles I’d really like to play, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider them to be “dream roles”, like Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, Timon in the Lion King, William Barfeé in Spelling Bee, Officer Lockstock in Urinetown, and Thenardier in Les Miserables.

Of the roles that you’ve played, which has been your favorite?  Donkey in Shrek the Musical! I grew up watching and loving the Shrek movies, and Donkey was always my favorite character. When I first found out Shrek was a musical, I fell in love with it, and Donkey instantly became my number one dream role! I love the comedy, personality, and energy in that character, and I had so much fun bringing him to life. It was a role I never thought I’d be able to play, but Yorba Linda Spotlight gave me the opportunity and I felt like I pulled it off really well and had tons of fun doing it! A close second favorite role would definitely be “Jukes” in Peter Pan, the pirate I played on my off-night. I had lots of fun playing Captain Hook in that show, but nothing compared to the fun I had being the drunken, stupid, peg-legged pirate in the ensemble on my off-nights. I had so much freedom to bring whatever I wanted to that role, and I had so many funny gags throughout the show. I got more compliments from random audience members after my off-night shows than I did when I was Captain Hook! And I loved it!

How has Spotlight helped you grow as a performer?  Spotlight has not only helped me grow as a performer, but as a person. Coming into my first show at Yorba Linda Spotlight, I didn’t even talk… to anyone. I was as shy as could be, but gradually I started making friends and opening up. I wouldn’t be who I am for today if it wasn’t for Yorba Linda Spotlight! They’ve taught me so much about being a performer as well. Before I started with Yorba Linda Spotlight, I couldn’t sing in-key, more or less hold a harmony. I had two left feet, and was very uncoordinated. Acting was the only thing I was really comfortable with, and even that is something I’ve improved so much on because of this company. If you watch the video of me dancing in Mama Says (Footloose 2011), you’d see me awkwardly moving my body, completely out of sync with all of the other boys. It’s quite hilarious. NOW I’m a pretty decent dancer (if I practice enough)! But you can be the judge of that if you come see Once on this Island 😉 If you watch the video of me as Aladdin (Aladdin 2012, my first lead role), you’ll hear me singing completely out of rhythm and off key in a few parts. It’s pretty funny to look back on now, because throughout my time performing with Yorba Linda Spotlight, I’ve grown SO much thanks to all that they have taught me.

What do you like to do when you’re not performing?  When not performing, I’m probably drawing, hanging out at Disneyland, or planning a Murder Mystery Party. I love to express my creativity through other forms of art, and recently I’ve been having fun creating my own stories and telling them through the form of Murder Mystery Parties. I pick a theme (such as Disney, Film Series’, or Broadway characters), let my friends choose their characters, and create a story where they have to act as their character and figure out who is behind the murders. They’re always a lot of fun, especially for my theatre-friends because they get to dress up in fun costumes and act as their favorite characters for a night. Last Halloween I created and hosted a Broadway Murder Mystery party at Yorba Linda Spotlight. It was a huge success, and hopefully there will be another one this year! It’s a really fun way for people to meet new people, practice improvisation, and really be immersed into a story. The cool thing is: the guests at these parties are both the performers AND the audience. So that’s a fun hobby I have!

What are your strongest and weakest traits as a performer?  My strongest trait as a performer is definitely my acting. I’m a very diverse actor, and have played roles everywhere from the silly Mad Hatter, to the strict and stern Mr. Banks. Although I’ve played a range of comedic (Rapunzel’s Prince, Donkey, Captain Hook, Charlie Brown) and dramatic roles (Pippin, Mr. Banks, Daniel, Tarzan’s Father), I really enjoy the comedic ones most, and I feel like that is where I am strongest as an actor. I have great comedic timing, body control, and many different character voices. I would say my next strongest would be singing, although it’s definitely something I continue to work on. My weakest trait is dancing, but I’ve definitely improved over the years!

If you could choose a show for Spotlight to produce, what would it be and why?  The Addams Family! It’s one of my favorite shows and it would be SO GOOD! I love the comedy in that show, and the music is fantastic. And like I said before, one of my dream roles is Gomez in that show. I’d also love to do Sweeney Todd, because that is just a beautiful show and I think Yorba Linda Spotlight would do a great job with it.

Of Spotlight’s past shows, which has been your favorite and why?  Definitely Peter Pan! That was such an amazing cast, and the whole experience was the most fun I’ve ever had in a show! We created so many fun memories and it was just an unforgettable experience. I got so close with everyone in that cast and we shared so many inside jokes and ridiculous shenanigans. Like I said before, I got to be in the pirate ensemble on my off-night, and I had so much fun every moment I spent on that stage, whether I was Captain Hook or Jukes. I learned so much about the importance of an ensemble in that show, and how to bring a character to life even when they don’t have any lines.

Anything else you want to say?  Come see Once on this Island! It’s been SUCH a fun show to be a part of, and it’s really coming together. Our cast is so small, which is nice because we’re all so close and we’re all having a really great time. I didn’t know anything about this show going into auditions (as its not very popular), but looking at it now— I didn’t realize what I was missing out on! It’s such a beautiful show with a really moving story. So come see the show, you won’t regret it. And you wont have very many other opportunities to see it because it’s a show that’s rarely done! So come check out why we tell the story! (I will be performing as Daniel on Thursday and Saturday night, and a grand homme on Friday and Sunday.) Thanks for reading!