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June Spotlight #3: Cris Kelland

In honour of #PrideMonth, each week of June, Penny & Pound will be shining a spotlight on a talented, up-and-coming LGBTQ2SIA+ performer in our community. This week, we introduce P&P alum, Cris Kelland (They/Them), who made their Penny & Pound debut as The Witch in our inaugural production of 'INTO THE WOODS' way back in 2015! Since then, Cris has performed as Sarah Good in 'THE CRUCIBLE' (2016) and was recently featured in our online fundraiser, SMALL BLESSINGS.

{IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A pastel rainbow background. A white polaroid frame over a picture of Cris Kelland, wearing a black tank top. On the frame is the name 'Cris Kelland' written in bold pastel-rainbow letters.} 1) TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF!

My name is Cris and I'm 20 years old, and recently finished training at Sheridan College for Musical Theatre. I am an extremely passionate person who loves to put their all into everything they do. I'm a huge star wars fan and am quite the avid music listener with a wide range that I enjoy (unless it's country lol). I am proudly out as a non binary, bisexual person constantly looking to push myself to grow further. I like to think I'm the type of person you can come to if you ever need anything, and I'm always willing to help out - even if I don't know you. (and if you can't tell, I'm not the best at the best at talking about myself haha) 2) WHEN DID YOU FIRST FALL IN LOVE WITH THE ARTS? For as long as I can remember I had always been in love with the arts - from starting to sing at the age of 3, to pursuing figure skating and ice dancing till I was 11, to becoming a competitive dancer in middle school, till finally taking a huge leap and auditioning for Eastwood as a triple major in Dance, Acting and Singing. But it wasn't until I saw my first live show, Les Miserables by Drayton Entertainment (DE), that something clicked within me and I just knew I had to be on that stage. My first show ever ended up being The Little Mermaid with DE and I can remember being backstage during Under The Sea waiting for my que, looking out at the adult ensemble and something told me that this was what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life. 3) HOW HAS THE CURRENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU?

If I'm being honest, it destroyed me completely. But I believe it was so that I could build myself back up with a new kind of resilience and belief in myself. I may be one of the few artists willing to be blunt enough about it, but I hate zoom theatre with a passion, so this past year with everything moving to online has been extremely difficult and has really felt like a huge roadblock. During this time though, myself and many other artists have been able to reflect on the current state of the theatre industry, both professional and community, and we are hoping to implement changes where everyone feels welcome and safe in the rehearsal room. 4) HAS THIS VOCATION ALWAYS BEEN YOUR GOAL? Not exactly, but I've always wanted to perform in some way. Whether that be on the ice, or an independent artist, or in theatre. There is just something so special about the power of performance that I will always love and will always keep me pushing myself. 5) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING, AND WHAT TRAINING DO YOU HAVE? I have 10 years of dance training in various disciplines, coming from my competitive background, dance classes at Eastwood, learning new styles with KW Glee, and technique training at Sheridan. Being a vocal major at Eastwood for 4 years gave me extensive training in both musical theatre and classical, but it wasn't until my first show with Penny & Pound, Into The Woods, where I was nudged to start private lessons in order to support my breathing. For acting, I never had any formal training throughout highschool other than my Drama Major classes, but those classes really pushed me to my depths as an actor and I discovered so much about myself. I then had training at Sheridan that really solidified a lot of my teachings and techniques. But I continue to push and work on my art on my own time, as independent practice is one of the most important things as a performer of any kind. 6) DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER UP-AND-COMING PERFORMERS? There is this thing you'll learn during either your training or in the rehearsal room called "Instant Forgiveness", and mastering that will not only make you a better performer, but a better person. You can't hold on to the line you flubbed or the step you missed because it will only cause you to overthink your talents and what you have worked so hard for. That also goes for when you didn't get a role you were hoping to get, you are definitely allowed to mourn the thing that could have been yours, but there are so many factors that go into casting that we usually tend to forget as we anxiously await the cast list, and none of them are that you're bad, or that you didn't wear the right colour shirt or whatever your brain wants to tell you. You take that as an opportunity to grow and not see it as a closed door, but an open window. 7) WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU? Quite honestly, I'm not that sure. The world and the industry is ever-changing, and with things still being online for the foreseeable future, I am continuing to work on myself and my art in order to keep growing in ways younger Cris could never imagine. I am looking forward to the return of a new normal (as I'm sure you are too,) and when that comes around, you will be able to catch me in many, many shows in the KW and Wellington region.

Cris Kelland stars as The Witch in 'Into the Woods (2015)' {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Cris Kelland dressed in a tattered grey dress, with a flesh-coloured mask over their eyes. They hold a wooden walking stick. In the background is a silver tree.}


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