Taking the Stage With Ella Kriegel

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   Sophomore Ella Kriegel thinks in terms of lines. Every line is accompanied by a movement, and every word is accompanied by an emotion. She devotes everything into theater — her time, her energy and her passion.

     “I have been doing theater my entire life, and it’s something that I have become very passionate about.”

With years of after-school practice, private lessons, and dozens of shows, performing has become second nature to her, like riding a bike.

   “Memorizing lines is almost easy once you’re blocked, which is where you’re placed in the scene. Once you memorize the lines and what step goes with it, it just flows. And once you hear your scene partner’s lines, you can think ‘this is why I’m saying this.’”

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   But even then, memorizing lines takes a lot of practice. To be a good actor, you must also understand the subtext and the emotion behind every line.

   “Usually, I read through the script, watch the show on YouTube and try to find some backstory. If there isn’t a backstory, I will kind of make my own so that each line and each song is coming from somewhere other than like, ‘Oh, I was given this, so I can sing it, and I’m going to sing the right notes.’ I want to become the character and understand where she’s coming from when she sings.”

   Part of being an actor is discovering what ways to memorize lines, motions and songs work best. Her success in discovering how she can be most successful is due in part to her current production company.

   “I’m with a production company called Act One Academy for Children’s Theater located in North Hollywood. It’s all teens and high school kids doing a ton of different shows. It’s a great program because we’re able to work with other people our age who also love theater. We’re all really passionate about it and actually want to do it, so that’s fun.”

   Ella is also a part of the theater program at West Ranch.

     “This is my first year in Advanced Theater, and this is where we do shows. You have to start in Theater 1A and Theater 1B because you can’t be in Advanced Theater as a freshman.”

   As a sophomore, it is Ella’s first year in the Advanced Theater Arts class. Being part of the West Ranch’s Advanced Theater program has given her the opportunity to grow with other students who are just as passionate about theater.

   “When you’re in freshman theater, it’s the elective that you were put in, but these people actually want to do theater maybe when they’re older or want to go to a college for it. It’s something that they’re passionate about too.”

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   Being a part of two theater programs among several other after-school activities has occupied most of Ella’s time. For West Ranch, practice is during sixth period and usually an hour after school for either two or three days a week. At Act One, rehearsals for their new show “Putnam County Spelling Bee” are on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Ella also has voice class on Mondays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and dance classes throughout the week.

   Ella’s parents grew up in theater and have careers in the fine arts, so they have always been supportive of her dream to pursue theater.

   “Both my parents were into theater and they both went to theater colleges. Now, my parents own a dance studio, so they’re somewhere in the creative world, but they’re not into theater.

   I was so lucky with the parents I got. Anything I wanted to do, they were like, ‘Let’s make it happen.’ So when I came here, they were like, ‘How can we get you into theater?’ and when we went to Act One that was doing shows, they asked, ‘How can we help you prepare?’ So, they have always been great about that — driving me to any auditions that I need to go to, helping me prepare for a character.”

   Ella also has her twin sister Sophia to support her.

   “Sophia likes to sing as well, but since we’re twins, we kind of were like, ‘Let’s do different things.’ She became athletic, and I became artsy, and it really worked out. Since I have a twin sister, it’s fun to be someone else that doesn’t have a twin. I’m unique and my own person.”

   Last year, Ella got to pretend to be Elle, the lead character from “Legally Blonde.” Sometimes, Ella gets caught up in the character that she is playing and forgets to break character.

   “When I did ‘Legally Blonde,’ I would walk home snapping all the time and wearing pink”.

   It’s especially hard to let go of a character role when you enjoy who you are playing. Most actors have favorite characters to play. Although Ella is usually cast as an arm-candy girlfriend of the lead, she enjoys playing the characters people can laugh or cry at.

   “My favorite characters to play are the comic reliefs in the show. You get to create a crazy character, and I love when people laugh. It’s very fulfilling. Or I like to be the very deep, emotional one who gets to sing a song that’s really sad and make people cry.”

   From all the work and years of experience Ella has in theater, she hopes will further her theater career past high school.

   “I want to be on broadway when I’m older, and I really want to go to Syracuse University or Boston Conservatory. They’re both really amazing colleges for theatrical arts.”

   The show must go on, and for Ella it definitely will as she continues to do great things.