Skaggs takes center stage in plays around St. Louis

She’s been in “Sweeny Todd,” “Lunchadora!” and “Legally Blonde” in the past year alone. Ashley Skaggs, junior, has no plans to stop her career as a young actress anytime soon.

Skaggs has been doing theater since she was three years old, performing in plays at a summer camp down in Texas. As she grew older, the theater was one of the main activities she continued to do.

Shannon Worley
Skaggs enters her first scene in the “Out of the Frying Pan” dress rehearsal. In the fall play, Skaggs played Dottie Coburn, a naive young woman who helps with the finances of the group.

“With all the other activities I’ve done, I’ve been in sports since I was little as well, they didn’t give me the same amount of enjoyment as theater. I didn’t get along with the other kids as well as I did with the theater kids. We just clicked more. I just understood the arts more than I did sports. It’s just my passion,” Skaggs said.

Through the years her favorite part has been being able to perform in a variety of different productions.

“It’s really fun to go out there and get the thrill of like that adrenaline when you go out for the first time and you form a number and then everyone’s just [applauding], you know if it’s good,” Skaggs said. “I performed in ‘Luchadora!’, which was my first professional production, and it was pretty cool.”

Currently, Skaggs is a member of STAGES, a performing arts academy in St. Louis, where she is in the top performing group.

“I perform at STAGES, and I’m there three times a week. It’s for my Triple Threats TEENS, which is the l premier performance group that I’m in. That’s where I’m doing “Sweeney Todd.” I’m there Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and I’m usually there on Saturdays for the ballet,” she said.

After seeing her friend Alex Meuret, junior, perform the STAGES director convinced Skaggs to join the STAGES production.

“So [it started with] their summer show, which was “Legally Blonde”, which was really fun. And then I auditioned for their like, younger performance group because there’s like the younger which is like fifth grade through eighth grade. And then there’s like the teen group, which I’m in now, so I auditioned for that I got in and it was really fun. So I decided to continue with it,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs has held a wide variety of roles since starting to do theater. Her perspectives on being cast as a lead role or as an ensemble member are both equally as optimistic.

“It’s fun to do either because you’re still getting that interesting opportunity with each, like in Legally Blonde I’m one of the leads, but in Sweeney Todd, I’m in the ensemble. I am still in it a lot and it’s still a lot of fun,” she said.

Skaggs’ least favorite part of being in theater is the audition process.

Shannon Worley
Skaggs and George Reich go through the final dress rehearsal, practicing their lines.

“I don’t like the audition part of it because that’s just stressful as it is. I’m like yes, it’s good to work yourself and your friends up and be like, we can do this, but it’s always stressful no matter what. Afterward, though, it’s like let’s get on with the show. I like just like skipping that part,” Skaggs said.

Before any auditions, Skaggs doesn’t follow a strict routine. Instead, she opts to have some fun and sing beforehand.

“I usually just sing a bunch in the car just to try to warm myself up and just get the jitters out,” Skaggs said. “But I always like to give a pep talk to my friends right before we go into auditions being like you can do it because they are very talented.”

As for her weekly practices, Skaggs follows a routine of dancing and singing.

“I’m getting voice lessons soon, and I do dance classes. It’s required for our theater group. Like you have to take a dance class to be able to keep up with like, the intense dancing that we do throughout the year. So I I like to do jazz and ballet, which isn’t my favorite, but I have to do it anyway. It’s good for technique and I appreciate it,” Skaggs said.