Sept. 10, 2012
University Hall provides a location for imaginary worlds to come to life. It may be known to some as the nursing department building, but the lot also shares space with the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, which hosts Theatreworks. This is where Leah Chandler-Mills spends the majority of her time.
She had originally been trained as an actress at Juilliard. “I’ve done all the acting stuff,” she said. Chandler-Mills has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on both national and international tours and is also a founding member of The Acting Company, an organization created in 1972 by Juilliard teacher John Houseman.
After all those years, Chandler-Mills got “sick of the business, sick of the auditioning, sick of being gone all the time,” so she made a change.
Chandler-Mills moved to Colorado Springs in 1987. In 1990, a friend took her to a play hosted by Theatreworks at the Fine Arts Center. Since that day, she has dedicated herself to the success of the UCCS theater department.
She began her teaching career at UCCS in 1994 as a lecturer. She lectured until 2008 and then became a full-time instructor. Over 30 shows have been put on during her eight years of instructing.
A career in the teaching field wasn’t something Chandler-Mills had been expecting. “I kind of fell into it by accident,” she said.
Chandler-Mills specializes in voice and articulation. One way she makes the activities fun for students is by utilizing Dr. Seuss works.
Hooey, a stuffed parrot from Dr Seuss’ “Oh Say Can You Say,” partners with her to teach students how to exercise their tongues more effectively.
“Meet Your Face” is another exercise that instructs students on how to use their facial muscles. “We make absurd faces, like puckering your lips, and we do lots of tongue exercises. Everybody loves tongue exercises,” Chandler-Mills said.
The theater department has several performances planned for this semester, including “The Glass Menagerie,” “Measure for Measure,” “Hedda Gabler” and many more.
Chandler-Mills stresses to students that performances are offered free of charge. “A lot of people don’t realize that every play on campus is free,” she said. Whether the play is with Theatreworks or at Osborne Studio, students only need to make a reservation.
As for people who are interested in theater but may be wary of their abilities: “the theater has room for everybody,” Chandler-Mills said. “We become one big family.”