BWW Interview: Rising Stars Jasmine Forsberg and Tony Moreno in Preparation for Life and Cabaret
It's the season of graduations and as high schoolers head off to college, it great to look back on all they've accomplished. Two local theater teens, Jasmine Forsberg and Tony Moreno are moving on to the next steps in their training and theater careers, but before they do they will perform in a Winter Park Playhouse Spotlight Cabaret. I had a chance to catch up with Jasmine and Tony as they prepare.
BWW: Congratulations on your graduations Jasmine and Tony. Both of you have been very active in the Orlando theater scene for awhile. I imagine the Orlando theater community has shaped who you are today. Looking back, what are some of those defining moments that lead you to where you're at today?
Jasmine: Thank you so much! I am very fortunate to have been a part of the Orlando theatre community since I was a little girl. There are a few moments in particular that stick out to me, one being Florida Theatre Conference's "FTC Idol" in 2009. This was one of the first competitions that I have ever been a part of, and this is where I met Jeff Revels from the Orlando Repertory Theatre. I had no idea at the time, but he would become a very important and loved mentor and director in my life.
Another moment was during Ruthless! at the Winter Park Playhouse. I went into opening weekend as Tina Denmark with a double ear infection and a horrible cold. I vividly remember having to "cry" on my mother's shoulder during the show. Let's just say the sniffles were very, very real (thanks for putting up with me, Ms. Heather). That same weekend, I had planned to audition for the Broadway revival of Annie. Mom, I couldn't thank you enough for convincing me to get out of the car and go to that audition. I ended up getting to the final callback with 15 other girls the following spring. That weekend was pure proof that, even when feeling miserable on the inside, I am the absolute happiest when I am performing. The stage is my escape.
Tony: One of the most defining moments for me as a performer was when I won the Applause Award for best actor last year and was able to compete at the Jimmy Awards over the summer. Going to New York and being able to experience first hand what working in this crazy business would be like really solidified my desire to continue with this passion of mine.
BWW: Jasmine, you're headed to Penn State. Tony you're headed to The University of Arizona in the Fall. Tell me about your hopes for the future? Will you both be studying Theater?
Jasmine: Yes, I will be pursuing a degree in Musical Theatre up in Happy Valley! Penn State is a decision that still takes me by surprise. Never would I have thought that a Florida girl like me would end up in rural Pennsylvania. However, I am looking forward to broadening my knowledge and experience throughout college. Whether it is at PSU, regional theatres, or Broadway and beyond, I cannot wait to continue creating and inspiring through art.
Tony: I just want to be a working actor, whatever that may mean. Yes, Broadway is an eventual goal, but the most important thing is for me to be working in the theater. I'm going to be getting my BFA in Musical Theatre at UofA, and I'm really looking forward to continuing my theatre education over the next four years.
BWW: To get where you are now, you must have received a lot of help along the way. Anyone you'd like to thank?
Jasmine: Absolutely. I have several mentors whom I look up to as role models, but few have as close a bond as I do with Steve Mackinnon. Mr. Steve is someone who I have admired since I first met him in 2010. He, along with the other members of the "Dream Team", Gary Cadwallader and Kim Ball, has not only helped me explore and take risks as a performer, but their creative vision, zest for life, and boundless love have inspired me to no end. I tell Ms. Kim that I want to be like her when I grow up. She is superwoman.
I would also like to thank my voice teacher and dance teacher, Ms. Lauren Langa and Ms. Joyce Lemos, respectively. Each week, these amazing women challenge me to work harder and reach higher for my goals. I am confident that I have a solid foundation to be built upon thanks to every single lesson and technique they taught me. Eu te amo.
Earlier I spoke of Jeff Revels. He is to be thanked for inviting me into what I call my second home, the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Without his guidance and love, my years in Orlando would never be the same. Gene Columbus from the REP has offered me some of the greatest advice and stories one could imagine. Together, the two of them have given me opportunities and memories that I'll never forget.
Lastly, I would like to thank Tim Evanicki and my family at the Winter Park Playhouse. I started studying voice and piano with Mr. Tim when I was just starting to dip my toes in theatre. He was my partner in crime during Broadway final callbacks for Annie and A Christmas Story. His mentorship greatly assisted my transition into the professional community where I met some of my dearest Playhouse family, Heather Alexander and Roy Alan.
There are countless other extraordinary artists who I have learned a tremendous amount from, and I am grateful for all of the experiences that have shaped me into who I am today. With the love and support of these people along with my family and friends, I feel ready to tackle a long road of dedicated dream following.
Tony: There are SO many people I'd like to thank. First and foremost, my parents. Without them I wouldn't have been able to receive nearly as many opportunities as I have received over my short life thus far. There are also many mentors I'd love to thank-David & Sheryl Chernault, Janine Papin, and Dana Brazil. Of course, I'd love to thank Megan Tsurumaki for introducing me to the Winter Park Playhouse and Heather and Chris for this amazing opportunity.
BWW: What advice do you have for other young performers who are interested in following a similar path as you both?
Jasmine: First and foremost, always keep training. There will always be more opportunities to expand your résumé, but voice, dance, and acting lessons will provide a foundation for you to base all of your work. Remember to be thankful for every opportunity, whether big or small, and when the big ones finally come along, stay humble. We are people before we are performers.
Tony: Never think that you're done learning. You are NEVER done learning for as long as you live. Absorb everything as if you were a sponge. Seek out performing opportunities-performing is the best way to learn, and offers invaluable opportunities for growth.
BWW: Tell me about this cabaret. Whose idea was it? What sort of songs will you be performing?
Tony: I was first approached by Heather in January about potentially wanting to do a Cabaret with Jasmine over the summer. The theme of our cabaret has sort of developed into being about our lives thus far, so we're singing songs that have some important significance to us, including some acoustic performances! I'm really looking forward to it.
Jasmine: The Winter Park Playhouse's own Heather Alexander proposed an idea of a young artist cabaret to me some time last year (thank you again, Ms. Heather), but we never got the ball rolling until this spring. In the cabaret, Tony and I will be singing a variety of music, from Sondheim to Jason Robert Brown to Tori Kelly. I am excited to be performing an original song as well.
Very cool! Well best of luck to you both and thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
There is no doubt that Jasmine and Tony are Broadway bound. Be sure to catch their cabaret before they hit it big. Seating is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. For tickets or more information call the Winter Park Playhouse box office at 407-645-0145 or online at www.winterparkplayhouse.org.
Photo Credit: Winter Park Playhouse