When the Rodriguez family decided to move to Florida from Hesperia, California last year, they wanted to make sure their kids had access to all the activities they enjoyed.
For 12-year-old Angela Rodriguez, theater is her passion.
“We looked at different cities, like Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami,” explained Belkis Rodriguez.
The Patel Conservatory was the deciding factor that brought them to the Tampa area.
“They had lots of classes for all ages...and the fact that it’s connected to the Straz Center, that gives [Angela] something she can look towards,” said Belkis.
|Angela Rodriguez, left, as Queen Aggravain|
Angela, a student at Seminole Middle School, plays Queen Aggravain in PCYT’s upcoming production of Once Upon a Mattress. She got hooked on theater when she played a lioness in a school play in the first grade. She continued in school plays, classes and community theater productions.
Since joining the Patel Conservatory, her mom says, “I’m loving it and she’s loving it.”
“I love being in a production with kids my own age,” said Angela. In her former town, the closest theater program was at a community college, where the shows were geared towards college students.
“She’s really impressed with the program here,” said Belkis. “Even though she’s done theater for years, she’s learning things she hasn’t learned before.”
“[The instructors] explain things in depth,” said Angela. She says she’s learned a lot about character development and using experiences in her own life to tap into her character on stage.
Another plus about the Conservatory is the fact that Angela’s performance classes are all in one place.
“We used to do dance at one place, theater at another place,” said Belkis. With Angela’s two older brothers in baseball, and a younger brother in hockey, it can certainly be a lot. Being at the Conservatory several days a week, Belkis often sits in her car with her laptop and studies for her Florida real estate exam, but she takes it in stride.
Last October, Belkis suffered a heart attack.
“I totally died, I had to be resuscitated. You look at life differently,” she said. “I don’t sweat the small things anymore. I want to know that my kids are doing what they want to do.”
“I am so grateful, because if I didn’t have my mom, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Angela.
She’s looking forward to playing the role of the manipulative Queen Aggravain.
“I love playing evil parts, I don’t know why,” she laughs. “To her son, she’s the sweetest person, but to the people in the royal court, she’s the rudest person ever.”
Check out Angela in PCYT’s Once Upon a Mattress April 12 - 20, 2012 in the TECO Theater!