|John Waldon '13, pictured in Our Town, has a commanding presence on stage.|
The Knight Fine Arts Center stage is the perfect place for John Waldon’s effervescent personality.
Waldon, currently a junior at Western Reserve Academy, is the recipient of the Corinne Van Dame Davis Award for the 2012-13 academic year. He received the award, presented to a student who has demonstrated a strong commitment and dedication to the drama and/or public speaking programs at WRA, during the spring Academic Awards ceremony. His name will be engraved on a plaque that hangs in the Knight Fine Arts Center.
While still relatively new to theater – Waldon spent his first year on campus as an audience member – he has quickly made his mark on WRA’s theater productions. He had a small role in the fall musical, Little Shop of Horrors, his sophomore year (the first appearance of his now famous red jacket) and landed a supporting role in the spring play, You Can’t Take it With You. But that only set the stage for his junior year.
This year Waldon earned supporting roles in both the fall play, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and the winter play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. His hard work and dedication were rewarded when he landed the lead role of the State Manager in the spring performance of Our Town.
“I am probably a little toned down (in a performance) but being on stage lets me express myself in a different way,” Waldon said. “I never knew I could act before I came here and having a stage is nice. With every role you have to play a character, but behind that role is an actor. I think it is important to get it right and perform (the role) the way the writer wanted it, because it is about the play, not the individual.
“I had a lot of fun as Donald in You Can’t Take it With You – I got to be loud and goofy, which was fun. I also like the role of the State Manager in Our Town because it is kind of playing a grown-up version of myself.”
Waldon’s imprint on the WRA campus is not just limited to the theater. He is also a member of the Academy Choir, the football team, track & field squad, and Cherish, the school’s diversity club.
“John is funny and he has a talent that is a surprise to him,” said Margaret Karam ’79, chair of the Fine Arts Department. “He works hard and is a deeply good person who really cares about other people, which is why he is such a good performer.”
Waldon has also matured as a performer during his junior year.
“John brings a wealth of natural gifts to his theatrical work at Reserve,” said drama teacher Donalee Ong, who has directed Waldon in three plays. “He has a melodious voice, a commanding physical presence and innate comic timing. These traits, combined with a good deal of hard work and self-discipline (alongside some strategic direction here and there), have taken him a long way. I have watched him grow and accomplish things this year he didn’t realize he was capable of.
“On a more personal note, both on stage and off, he is a funny, warm and charming young man, which has certainly made my job easier all the way around.”
Waldon is experiencing everything WRA has to offer on the advice of his father, Anderson.
“My dad would always ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I couldn’t just pick one thing; I had to make a list,” Waldon said. “He taught me to shoot for multiple things because if you only go for one and miss, you have nothing to fall back on. He told me that you have to give the world as much of yourself as you can to get the most out of the world. It was the best advice I’ve ever heard and it was cool that it came from my dad.”
Waldon appreciates being recognized for his work.
“It feels really good to know that someone was watching what I was doing and liked how I carried myself,” he said. “I want to thank my mom and dad; my sister, Jessie; and God, of course. Also want to thank Mrs. Ong and Ms. Karam because they have always supported me, and WRA for letting me do what I want to do on the stage.”
The Corinne Van Dame Davis Award was established in 2007 by family, former students and friends to celebrate Mrs. Davis’ life and devotion to the school she loved. The inimitable “Corky” Davis taught at WRA from 1972 to 1994, during which time she staged more than 100 plays and musicals. Known for her legendary high standards and her exhausting work ethic, she saw herself first and foremost as a teacher.
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