“We were very lucky to find such talented young actors here in Delaware.” Those are the words of Sanford Robbins, founder and Producing Artistic Director of the Resident Ensemble Players (REP), the professional theater at the University of Delaware.
He wasn’t making reference to college students. It was two Newark Charter Intermediate School students who impressed him so much. Evangeline Heflin, grade 4, and Aileigh Corbett, grade 6, shared the key role of Scout in the REP’s recent production of Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Both Evangeline and Aileigh were consummate professionals and were a delight to work with during To Kill a Mockingbird,” said Robbins. “I’m certain that their talent will take them far,” he said.
“Evangeline was thrilled to play the part of Scout,” said Elizabeth Heflin, Evangeline’s mom. “She went through several auditions
over a period of two months before getting the part,” she said.
But attending school, rehearsing six days a week for four weeks and performing in all 35 shows was a daunting challenge for the 10-year-old. She did homework during recess or late at night and got up early in the morning to run lines or study. “Mr. Meece and all my teachers were so supportive and they helped me get through it all,” said Evangeline. She loved doing the school matinées but was always particularly excited when she knew some of her teachers and friends from school were in the audience. She loved it when they came backstage to say hello. In fact, the school’s entire ninth grade class took a field trip to see the play, which they read in their American Literature classes.
Aileigh was understudy for the role of Scout. She, too, found a way to balance studies and performing. “I asked for a library pass so that I could go in there whenever possible, like during recess,” she said. “That way I could work on the homework I knew that I already had that day. I would often get up an hour earlier than usual to finish any homework that I had left,” she said.
Both girls have acted in Newark Charter School’s Intermediate School musicals prior to their deput on the professional stage. Evangeline and Aileigh agree that peforming with the professional ensemble at the REP was an amazing experience. “I felt a strong tie with Scout as I learned the role,” said Aileigh. “The REP company is a great and talented set of theatre professionals. I hope to work and learn from them again soon.”