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A passion not pursued

Actor Collin Bunch carefully considers his future career

Jaya Flanary, Features Editor
Originally published December 5, 2014

Avary LenzCollin Bunch played Michael Kelly, the undercover cop, sleuthing for the Stage Door Slasher in "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940."

Avary Lenz

Collin Bunch played Michael Kelly, the undercover cop, sleuthing for the Stage Door Slasher in “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.”

“There’s a lot of inner conflict about whether I’m going to continue acting, because my passion is acting.”

But senior Collin Bunch is not focusing on his passion when he graduates. Instead, Bunch is majoring in biology at college, since he’s interested in science as well. “It’s always good to have a backup plan,” he said.

Though he doesn’t plan on studying theater specifically, he does plan on participating in his college’s theater program, auditioning for local productions and taking any acting opportunities presented to him. “I was thinking about it as a career for a while, but it’s really, really tough to act professionally.”

Not planning on pursuing acting in the future doesn’t stop him from enjoying theater now. Bunch has participated in the theater program since he started high school.

According to Bunch, the program has helped him evolve in four years, preparing him for any future acting, especially with Shawn Riley as the director. “Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen enough of other directors,” Bunch said, “but [Riley] just seems perfect to me in the direction he gives and how his whole theater is prepared.”

In total, Bunch has been in seven productions in high school, and recently was cast as the lead role of Trevor Graydon in the musical “Thourougly Modern Millie.” He plans to audition for the end of the year play as well.

He enjoys the plays more than the musicals because of the great bonding experience between the small cast. “With the musicals, if you’re an ensemble member, you’re not going to know most of the people and you’re just going to hear Mr. Riley shout directions,” Bunch said.

“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” the most recent play, has been one of Bunch’s favorites. He played Michael Kelly, the undercover cop, sleuthing for the Stage Door Slasher.

One of Bunch’s scenes that received an abundance of laughs from the audience was his improvisation bit. Kelly was searching for “clues” on the case; Bunch ran around the stage inspecting random items and furniture to find them. “I remember during rehearsal I’d change it up, you know, what I would do and just build upon it,” Bunch said. “Sometimes it would be six or seven minutes long.”

Kelly searched behind a small plant, one of Riley’s ideas for the scene. But most of Bunch’s improvisation was inspired by the rambling police investigator in “The Naked Gun.”

Avary LenzAlthough senior Collin Bunch is in his fourth year of the theater program, he is not planning on majoring in theater.

Avary Lenz

Although senior Collin Bunch is in his fourth year of the theater program, he is not planning on majoring in theater.

“Like the sniffing, it’s not even really going to help you,” Bunch said. “But someone that’s so into it might think it will help them.”

Though Bunch had a main part in “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” this was not the case in “Songs for a New World” as a sophomore. The theater program took the musical to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, but Bunch wasn’t able to show his skill due to being cast as a very small part.

While others had their own songs in the production, he only sang in three ensemble pieces. “That was really crushing for me,” Bunch said, “but I think that taught me a lesson that I’m not always going to get what I want, and that’s fine. Other people deserve just as much.”

According to Bunch, his song choice for his audition was one he couldn’t manage. His confidence in his voice was low at the time since his singing experience was limited. Now that he is a part of choir, his confidence has grown.

When members of the program aren’t cast as a roll they auditioned for, they’re often disappointed like Bunch was.

“Mr. Riley says that he puts up the cast list for a show and then he runs,” Bunch said.

In his junior year, Bunch was cast in the musical “Urinetown” as the role he auditioned for: the main antagonist, Caldwell B. Cladwell. Cladwell, who exploits the town’s poor, is the evil president and owner of the megacorporation Urine Good Company.

Bunch imagined the character to have a “stereotypical business man” look, but the program’s wardrobe department made Cladwell steampunk. Originally, Bunch didn’t like the leather jacket and ascot since he hadn’t envisioned his look that way while reading the script. But ultimately, it helped him define the character.

Bunch believes the costume for a character is crucial to the performance. In his first production at Ballard, a comedy play titled “Is He Dead?” he was cast as the lead role, a painter, who realizes his work would be more valuable if he was dead. After faking his own death, he disguises himself as his own sister by dressing as a woman.

“I had to wear a dress for the first time for that, you know, leggings, the whole thing,” Bunch said. “I think it definitely helped me find my voice and get into that woman character a bit more.”

Receiving the lead role was shocking for Bunch since he was a freshman at the time. He had been excited to join the program because when he toured Ballard he was impressed by the grand theater. He was used to his middle school’s gym.

Middle school was where Bunch’s acting career began. In seventh grade, when he was involved in sports rather than theater, his friends decided to audition for the school’s production of “Willy Wonka Jr.” Bunch decided to try out as well, with no prior experience in acting or singing.

“I remember I came in late. I walked in and everyone was already there, and it was really scary,” Bunch said. He was asked to read for the lead role, Charlie Bucket, and sing too. “He put the cast list up, and I got the part, and it was kind of amazing.”

Bunch’s middle school productions made him realize he enjoyed being able to become a character and do something unique he wouldn’t do as himself.

So from there, Bunch chose to act. “I don’t know,” he said. “Something just connected.”

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A passion not pursued