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Actress names Kennedy Center performance as career highlight

October 02, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown native Carly Churchey has acted in plays in 45 states and overseas - but performing at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., was a career highlight, she says.

"It was absolutely incredible," says Churchey, 24, who is the daughter of Patti Churchey-Friend and Don Churchey, both of Hagerstown.

Carly Churchey played "Lucy," the lead female role in VSA Arts Playwright Discovery Award program's production of "Diamond in the Rough" on Monday, Sept. 29. The VSA program challenges middle and high school students to examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and to express their views through the art of playwriting. Two scripts are selected for professional production by a panel of award-winning theater artists.

Minnesota high school student Allyson Hogan wrote "Diamond in the Rough," a play about a tormented albino teenager who befriends the free-spirited Lucy and eventually gains acceptance due to his musical talents.

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"It was very educational, very thought-provoking, to do a show about a disability that isn't talked about every day. There's so much mystery and fear that surrounds albinism," says Churchey, who lives in Georgetown in Washington, D.C. She and her castmates spent about 3 1/2 weeks developing the relationships that drive the play and "pounding the pages trying to find what this play was trying to say," she says.

A 1996 graduate of North Hagerstown High School, Churchey earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from Frostburg State University. She has since traveled throughout the United States with several theater companies, acting in myriad musicals, comedies and dramas. Among other roles, Churchey performed in a musical version of "A Christmas Carol" at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, played the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland" and fulfilled her lifelong dream of portraying Tiger Lily in "Peter Pan," she says.

Her television appearances include roles on Court TV's "Forensic Files" and public television's "Secrets of the Sequence."

Carving out a career in acting takes determination, Churchey says.

"You have to be willing to live on (instant) noodles and live in a closet that you're paying $800 a month for. You just have to have courage and faith, and pound the pavements," she says. "You just to have this passion that can't be subdued."

In addition to acting, Churchey recently launched a production company called Stealing Thunder. The company will stage its first production, "Head Over Feet," in late October at the District of Columbia Arts Center on 18th Street, N.W. Churchey wrote and stars in the comedy. For more information, go to www.stealing-thunder.com on the Web.

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