Gap Year Pays off For Local Highschool Graduate

and he's just getting started

Local performer Adam Ashby, 18, has landed a role in Toronto’s broadway musical Newsies. While many others the same age rushed off to post-secondary in September, Adam decided to take the year off to focus on building his experience in the theatre industry and advancing his skills as a performer.

Adam Ashby, 18, is a graduate of Nantyr Shores Secondary School. Image Courtesy of Issac Haig.

So far, Adam has proved that this decision has paid off. Since the end of the summer, he has kept incredibly busy balancing the demanding schedules for two separate musicals. Not only has he been singing, dancing and acting in a well-known Toronto musical, but he also just recently wrapped up choreographing Aladdin Jr.

Related: Young Directors Thrilled With Successful Debut of Aladdin Jr.

These are two incredible feats for someone of Adam’s age, especially considering he stumbled into this industry by somewhat of a coincidence. He was signed up for a boys hip-hop class at 11 years old by spur of the moment, when he tagged along with his parents to get his sister signed up for dance; 7 years later Adam’s passion for the performance arts has continued to thrive, with experience in almost every dance genre, but a particular love for theatre jazz.

“You have to go out and look for the opportunities, they are not going to come to you.”

Adam credits his success thus far to practice and perseverance but is particularly thankful for his past few years at Moving Art Centre for Performing Arts in Barrie. He feels fortunate to have spent a number of years training at this studio in one of their “triple threat” programs which includes training in dancing, acting and singing.

Moving Art Centre is located at 125 Anne St, Barrie.

Adam has already gained a significant amount of experience from his time with Aladdin Jr. and Newsies, but not only in regard to physical skills. He explained that one of the most interesting things he learned working behind the scenes as choreographer was the importance of positive relationships in the industry.

After being told for many years as a performer that he had to be careful how he treated others in the industry, he learned just how true that was. Adam experienced what it was like to critique auditions of skilled performers, with heavy consideration for their personality, work ethic and other personal characteristics. He realized that sometimes, no matter how skilled the performer may be, negative personal qualities could ultimately lead to to them not landing the role.

This experience reminded Adam that you can’t make it in this industry on skill alone and the impression you leave on you cast and crew will follow you throughout the rest of your career.

Inspired by a true story, Newsies is a Disney film turned Tony-winning Broadway hit. Image Courtesy of Seanna Kennedy.

Adam is proud of what he has accomplished so far, but admits that these sort of achievements do not come easy. He wants younger, aspiring performers to understand the importance of seeking out opportunities.

He explained, “You have to go out and look for the opportunities, they are not going to come to you.”

Adam plays a character in the ensemble named Finch. Image courtesy of Seanna Kennedy.

In just three years since being turned down at his first community show audition, Adam learned what it meant to turn failures into fuel. He continued to study, train, and practice to ensure that with every new opportunity, he was more prepared than the last.

This attitude and work ethic is what has helped Adam get to a point in his career today, that he considers to be a highlight. He is thankful to be a part of a cast, with Newsies, where he is among the youngest of performers. There’s always something to be learned from fellow cast and crew members, but especially those who have been in the industry much longer.

Newsies will be at Lower Ossington Theatre in Toronto until January 19th, 2019. Image courtesy of Seanna Kennedy.

Adam plans to attend post-secondary school next year, but hopes to also maintain his involvement in theatre outside of school.

For more info about Newsies and tickets, click here.

For more info about Moving Art Centre for Performing Arts, click here.