Ariel Friendly Is Acting at the Signature Theatre

by Billy Chandler

When the news came in that she was being cast in a show at Arlington’s Signature Theatre she was on a school bus with a bunch of fifth graders.

She had auditioned for a role in Signature’s production of Ragtime, and even after two callbacks she was afraid to get her hopes up. She had been working as a substitute teacher, and while on a school bus she received a new email on her phone from the theatre. “I saw the first line thanking me for auditioning, and I really figured it the next line would be telling me I didn’t get the part.” When she opened the email she saw that not only had she been cast in the ensemble, but she was to be the understudy for the show’s main character, Sarah. “I started shaking and crying and the kids thought something was wrong with me!”

This plum role wasn’t Ariel’s first time on the stage. The Wolfhart Haus dinner theatre in Wytheville provided her first gig while she was still a student at Emory & Henry. And on the day she graduated, she walked across the commencement stage in Emory and drove straight to the outdoor stage of The Lost Colony in North Carolina

She says her BFA degree in musical theatre from Emory & Henry not only helped prepare her for professional stage roles, but it also led her to great audition opportunities like the United Professional Theatre Auditions (UPTA) her senior year that led to offers from Lost Colony as well as other theatres.

In addition to learning new strides in singing and dancing from her time at E&H she also gained valuable connections to mentors with whom she remains in contact. One of those instructors is Zacchaeus Kimbrell who is not only an instructor in the E&H Theatre Department but is also an actor at Barter Theatre. (The partnership between Emory & Henry and Barter Theatre was just renewed in the fall of 2023.) “Zacchaeus has received a LOT of text messages from me asking for advice!” 

He also got to be the first to know when Ariel recently got particularly good news: the young woman playing the role of Sarah was going to miss a performance and as understudy Ariel got to step into the limelight. “I told him, ‘This is not a drill! This is happening!”  And he cried happy tears right along with her.

Enjoy a conversation with Ariel on the Duck Pond Wall podcast.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3215-dr-frank-settle-launches-interactive-map-of-george"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,1,514,516/14837_Frank_Settle.rev.1698938136.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,1,514,516/14837_Frank_Settle.rev.1698938136.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,1,514,516/14837_Frank_Settle.rev.1698938136.jpg" alt="Distinguished man with mustache." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="514" data-max-h="515" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3215-dr-frank-settle-launches-interactive-map-of-george">Dr. Frank Settle Launches Interactive Map of George C. Marshall’s Journeys</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> The map is intended to be an active look at the fascinating life of General George C. Marshall’s life.</p><a href="/live/news/3215-dr-frank-settle-launches-interactive-map-of-george" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2179-alex-versen-training-for-a-lifetime"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,9,284,294/10774_ALex.rev.1643815998.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,9,284,294/10774_ALex.rev.1643815998.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,9,284,294/10774_ALex.rev.1643815998.jpg" alt="Alex Versen E&H Class of 2012" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="284" data-max-h="285" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2179-alex-versen-training-for-a-lifetime">Alex Versen: “Training for a lifetime.”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> A lot of students play sports in college but after school is over so is that athletic endeavor. But the E&H Outdoor Program trains young people for the sorts of active endeavors that will follow them their entire lives. <a href="/live/news/2179-alex-versen-training-for-a-lifetime" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2391-chanel-burke-santiago-advocates-for-military"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,450,450/11580_chanel_santiago.rev.1657026563.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,450,450/11580_chanel_santiago.rev.1657026563.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,450,450/11580_chanel_santiago.rev.1657026563.jpg" alt="Chanel Burke Santiago Emory & Henry Class of 2004" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="450" data-max-h="450" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2391-chanel-burke-santiago-advocates-for-military">Chanel Burke Santiago Advocates for Military Veterans Through a VA Vet Center</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Chanel Burke Santiago is doing impactful work for Veterans, and it is very personal for her. <a href="/live/news/2391-chanel-burke-santiago-advocates-for-military" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>