Valencia’s own has her sights on bright Broadway lights

By Natasha Tetley

EAST CAMPUS — Singer. Dancer. Actress. Broadway aspirant. Knows sign language. Soft yet well spoken and appears eerily wise beyond her years. Currently performing downtown. Rings in at 18-years-old. Humble.

Could this be a list of talking points on the resume of a theatrical wunderkind? It’s possible. Though these attributes belong to Tess Carr, who on Wednesday, in the failing afternoon glow of East Campus’ performing arts building, projected average teenage girl.

“People judge me all the time. They make assumptions that because I’m in the theater world I’m a certain way and it’s not necessarily true,” said Carr. “It’s kind of a generalization of a group of people. Just because I’m in theater I don’t act a certain way or am a certain way.”

First time Valencia student Carr recently landed her second professional theater role with “Sunday in the Park With George” at the Mad Cow Theatre Company in downtown Orlando. Her first was with the Orlando Repertory Theatre in Loch Haven Park with last year’s “A Wrinkle In Time.”

Since beginning her acting career as a child of 8, Carr has performed in upwards of 25 shows.

“I think I probably knew that I wanted to be an actress from the time I was about 3 when my mom would catch me in front of my full length mirror singing,” said Carr. “Growing up I’ve always performed everywhere I’ve went. It’s always what I wanted to do.

“I hope to be on Broadway one day. That’s probably every performer’s dream.”

Currently, the Sondheim musical is in full swing downtown, allowing Carr to be totally immersed in the student-performer lifestyle. Having graduated high school just last May, she intends to attend Valencia in order to remain close to both her base of contacts and to her family, whom she loves spending time with.

Carr intends to participate in Valencia’s acting program as soon as her schedule allows and is currently enrolled in an acting class with Professor John DiDonna.

“I think the hardest part about being a student in the world of professional acting is that you have to balance work and school and your professional life while still learning about everything,” said Carr.

“I always bring all of my homework with me and all of my books with me so everytime that I’m not on stage I’m backstage studying anything I can do with school.”

“Sunday” follows the creation of painter Georges Seurat’s quintessential park scene, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Carr cites long nights and talented players for the success of the production at Mad Cow.

“It’s been very long nights but it’s been a very condensed and quick process. We put everything up very fast and then we went back through it working it over and over and over again until it was perfect,” said Carr.

“I really didn’t know much about the history of the actual painter himself but I studied as much about the time period, about how certain people would act during that time period.”

Carr plans to finish a degree in acting following completion of a degree in sign language, which she says is her other great passion alongside theater.  In the long run, she says, “I really do see myself performing.”

When asked to impart some advice unto her fellow young actors, Tess smiled big and took a preparatory breath.

“Study with a lot of professionals in the area. Audition everywhere you can, take classes as much as you can and definitely do as much studying as you can.”

“Sunday in the Park With George” opened Mad Cow’s new performance space at 54 W. Church St. downtown. Catch Carr and her fellow actors through Oct. 28. For more information, visit