RUMFORD — Richard Russell has a passion for acting, for getting into someone else’s skin to portray a story.

The Mountain Valley High School senior loves acting so much that he applied to The Juilliard School in New York City, and received an audition date for Saturday, Jan. 30.

At 9 a.m. at the Lincoln Center performance art complex in midtown Manhattan, Russell will present two very different two-minute monologues: Elwood P. Dowd, the friend of giant rabbit “Harvey;” and Oedipus, the mythical Greek king in a fifth-century play by Sophocles.

If he gets a callback for later in the afternoon, he will perform famous actor Robert Preston’s, “You’ve got trouble in River City” from the movie “The Music Man,” and Porter, a drunken gatekeeper in Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Macbeth.”

Then, he will have to wait until March to learn whether he has been chosen to attend the school. Only about 17 or 18 young people will be chosen from the more than 1,000 who audition for a spot in the acting class of the world-famous school.

“I fell in love with acting at age 8. It’s a fun and rewarding experience,” Russell said.

He decided to try for a chance at attending Juilliard after talking about his passion for acting with many people.

“They said if this is what I’d like to do (act), then I might as well try for the best,” he said.

Russell figures the varying roles will show the judges his range of ability.

High school theater teacher Natalie Bean wrote one of the three references Russell had to present to get an audition.

“He has always had this humble confidence, this talent and confidence,” Bean said. “I have 100 percent confidence that he’ll be chosen.”

She’s also pleased that he decided to reach for Juilliard.

“I’ve known many people who have talked about going to Juilliard, but none have ever done it,” Bean said.

Russell, his mother, Lisa, and father, Ron, will leave Rumford on Friday morning for the drive to the city. They’ll stay in a hotel a few minutes from Lincoln Center. Once the auditions are over, they plan to attend a Broadway play.

“Even if I don’t get in to Juilliard, I’ll be acting,” Russell said.

His backup plans include applying to colleges to major in theater, psychology, or both.

Russell starred or performed in many high school plays and musicals, including as Elwood P. Dowd last semester in “Harvey.” He will appear as the pirate king in “The Pirates of Penzance” during the school’s spring musical.

“My classmates and my family have all been supportive. My friends want to know as soon as I know whether I make the cut,” Russell said.

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Richard Russell, a Mountain Valley High School senior, heads to The Juilliard School in New York City on Friday with his parents, Lisa and Ron Russell, to audition for a spot in the acting program at the world-renowned school. Here, he looks at a painting of Elwood P. Dowd and his friend, Harvey, the giant rabbit. In the background is artwork from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Russell will be performing two-minute monologues from each of those plays.


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