He’s performed in Broadway’s “Young Frankestein,” “Les Misérables,” and “Oklahoma!” Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards carry his name.
The renowned actor Shuler Hensley returned to his roots in Cobb County to share with Cobb County School District (CCSD) drama teachers what he has learned over the course of his career on Broadway. The ArtsBridge Foundation, the education outreach arm of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, coordinated Hensley’s July 26 training session with CCSD teachers.
Hensley demonstrated for the teachers how to provide guidance to their theater students so they improve their performances. He aimed to train the teachers on new and inventive ways to work with kids and put on productions.
“Kids these days are all triple threats, which means they can sing, dance, and act,” Hensley said. “The talent level of theater in general for high schools kids is going through the roof.”
He credits shows like “Smash” and “Glee” with making high school musicals and theater “cool” and encouraging kids, who are natural performers, to give the platform a try.
That has increased student competition, and thus, according to Hensley, teachers have to keep up with the kids who are coming into theater with different levels of talent.
“[The students] are all at that age where it is really helpful for mentors to give them ideas and give them the ability to help create, not just take direction but actually get involved with building a character,” Hensley added.
Hensley is no stranger to the Cobb Schools or its drama teachers. Born in Marietta, he attended Pine Mountain Middle School the first year it opened. He performed in “Pirates of Penzance” at the Brevard Music Festival with Frank Timmerman, the director of performing arts at Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts at Pebblebrook High School. Students from five CCSD schools won Georgia High School Musical Theatre-Shuler Awards in 2017.
He enjoys returning to the area where he grew up, and still lives, to give back.
“I get as much out of it as the teenagers or the teachers, being able to come back and share what I know,” the Broadway actor said. “It is an absolute thrill to get involved again. It helps me realize just how talented these kids are getting, year end and year out.”