WANT TO GO?
Sean Watkins Broadway musical revue
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main St., St. Albans.
INFO:www.albanartscenter.com or 304-721-8896
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sean Watkins never got bit by the acting bug. In fact, the St. Albans native hadn't even considered the arts until he was approached by his high school's show choir director.
Now, the genial 25-year-old is a successful musical theater actor living in New York. He's worked professionally nearly nonstop since he graduated from Marshall University in 2009. While back in the area for some downtime before his next gig, he's using his talent to help arts programs locally.
At 3 p.m. Sunday, he will stage a Broadway musical revue at the Alban Arts Center. Proceeds benefit the center's Arts Academy scholarship fund.
Making the arts accessible to kids is important to Watkins.
"Things are being cut so much in public schools that they're not really getting anything there," he said.
In terms of theater, he added, "People don't realize how important it is. It can change your life for the better. It's saved so many kids' lives, it really has."
Watkins was a senior at St. Albans High School when he was approached by then-show choir director Gail Kennedy. She knew he liked to travel, so she enticed him to join with a trip to New York the group had planned.
The love of travel came from another of Watkins' passions: karate. Studying at USA Martial Arts in St. Albans, he won his first national title at age 9, earned his black belt at 10 and was on the U.S. National Team in 2002 and 2003. He's competed in France, Chile and Canada.
Finding that passion was also kind of a fluke.
"The first time I went was when I was 4," he said. "I was a very, very small kid. My aunt was deathly afraid I was going to get beat up, so she said I needed to learn how to defend yourself."
It didn't go well. He bristled at having to bow during the lesson.
"I said, 'I'm not bowing down to anybody!' And that was that," he recalled with a laugh.
When his aunt died four years later, he said he decided to try karate again. "I went back, and it stuck."