A chance conversation with Paul Blackthorne, star of superhero television series Arrow, could be the road to stardom for Dunstan High School pupil Ursin Morrell (16), of Alexandra.
During the Armageddon Expo in Christchurch, Mr Blackthorne chatted briefly to Ursin, telling him he should apply to the Scene II Performing Arts Academy in Essex in the United Kingdom.
Ursin did so, and shortly after contacting them received an invitation to audition.
Only a week later, Ursin was on a Skype call to the United Kingdom with the principal and one of the teachers of the academy.
“I had to perform a song, a dance and a monologue,” Ursin said.
The song he chose was Hallelujah, and he performed a monologue from William Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus.
Dance teacher Marilyn Cassidy choreographed a contemporary dance piece for him, which he learnt in a week.
Soon after his audition, Ursin was offered a partial scholarship to attend the school, representing 40% of the total course fees.
“They said they thought I would fit in and had a lot of talent,” Ursin said.
“The course is a three-year course, where I study acting, singing and dancing, five days a week, from eight o’clock in the morning till five at night, possibly six.
“They get agents from all over the world to check you out and try to pick you up as well, so the goal is by the time you leave you have an agent in the specific area that you want to go into.”
Parents Gabriela Scmidt-Morrell and Dion Morrell said they were “very excited for him”, saying it was his dream to become an actor overseas.
Mrs Scmidt-Morrell said it was a long way to go, but with relatives in Switzerland including cousins, uncles and grandparents, there would be family nearby, she said.
“Of course, it’s on the other side of the world, so it’s a long way to visit.”
But Ursin was “quite worldly”, Mrs Scmidt-Morrell said.
“He’s well-travelled you know. He’s been overseas a few times, he’s been six months going to school in Switzerland.”
Drama teacher Nick Meissel said the school would train Ursin as a “triple threat” performer, who could excel at singing, dancing and acting.
“But they also come out with teacher qualifications at the end of it, so that they’ve got a fall-back if things, for whatever, reason don’t work out.”
Ursin had been offered a place to begin in July, but he has deferred for a year, enabling him to do further training, and fundraise the remaining course fees, he said.
“It will be great experience, in the end I do want to be a screen actor, but I think the singing and dancing will help not just with the singing and dancing but in the way I use my voice and my body.”
Academy administrator Sarah Brown confirmed Ursin would be beginning his course in September next year.