An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs and Evalyn Gleason.
When I did some substitute teaching in the RCSD, SOTA was my favorite destination. I remember John Gabrielle preparing his choir for the Lilac Festival and then watching their impressive performance in Highland Park. See No highly effective teachers at SOTA?. Something is not right.
Once, I helped the Tech Crew strike down the set they had deftly created for the musical Shrek. That experience became The Unsung Heroes . . . Behind the Scenes at the School of the Arts.
In this highlight, we turn our attention to Lorie Dewey a prominent actor and director within our community. To the School of the Arts family, she is definitely a living legend, leaving an impact on every student she encounters. Wildly talented and possessing an impressive gift when it comes to directing musical productions, Lorie continues to ‘wow’ audiences with her wit and overall showmanship, forever etching a fun unique experience in your memory.
I asked Mama Dew a series of questions. Here is what we discussed.
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
Born in highland Hospital, Rochester, NY. My parents moved to Jamestown until I was three then back to Rochester. We lived on Lake Ave until I was five and then moved to Grand Ave. I attended 33 school when it was on Grand Ave. Finally we moved to Bushnell’s Basin when I was in the fifth grade. I grew up there attending Pittsford schools and graduating from Sutherland HS. I went to Stephens College in Columbia Missouri for my undergrad degrees in theater arts and education. I attended Schiller international University in Berlin Germany and received my Masters in theater management by the age of 21.
The reason I went into theater was all thanks to my English teacher in high school Joanne Ham. She taught us that Shakespeare should be acted out and absolutely not sat and read. That made all the difference in the world and to this day I love Shakespeare because I understand it. Also, like many actors, I love getting to be somebody else, talking differently, walking differently, the whole idea of not being me. I wanted to teach because I love kids of all ages. Elementary school kids because of their imaginations and because they are fearless and willing to try anything that makes them great actors. High school kids because they’re fighting their imaginations and I like to make them use them. College level because they’re there because they want to be. And they listen and are open to learning and they’re fun to work with.
I once worked with a little boy who hadn’t spoken in three years due to a traumatic experience. I did a unit on mime and when he realized he could do that, no problem, he raised his hand and got up and did him in meticulous mime. About five minutes later, he raised his hand and said, may I do another? That convinced me I was in the right profession.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
As far as facing adversity goes, practically every show has its problems, either with the set the customs the lights and usually most particularly the actors. And a high school situation there’s also eligibility. Over the years I figured out how to get by all of them and make it work. There’s nothing a little duct tape stapler a lot of coaching and triple casting can’t cure.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers/teacher?
I think my biggest strength is my passion for theater and the fact that I believe every child should have a chance on stage if they want. I know not everyone is talented and I also know that most people will not go on to be actors. However, the ones who are shy but try out to put themselves out there will get the most out of the experience. It will boost their self-confidence like almost nothing else can. So when I can I try to cast them. Sometimes they are the best thing on the stage. Also when young actors get a big head, I have no problem putting a pin in that balloon and making sure they understand they’re not there yet and they have so much more to learn. A really good actor never stops learning, never stops taking classes, never stops trying.
I love to travel, read and be with friends. Now that I’ve retired I’m starting to learn how to cook! When I’m recovered completely. I’ll be sending my resume out and hope to start directing in Rochester with any groups that will have me. I’d like to see myself still alive and still directing.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers/educators?
My biggest advice to actors is to read, to take voice lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, observe people of all walks of life and get out there and audition audition audition audition ! learn how to sell yourself and believe it.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
I’m on Facebook and Instgram when I can remember my passwords.
This week (January 2018) Lorie passed away. On his facebook page, on January 11th, Che offered his condolences.
“I’m never good with these things but RIP to a magnificent artist and teacher and overall good person who truly cared about the kids she came into contact with. Mrs. Dewey taught myself and so many others that magic is in theatre and that magic lies within you. She was one of the few who rooted for you and meant it. I have many fond memories of moments spent with her and friends when we were younger and these moments I still hold close to my heart. Still to this day. Thank you for everything. R.I.P. Lorie Dewey”