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Tonya Broach

Tonya Broach
Tonya Broach is a performing artist, neighborhood advocate and amateur jewelry designer. You may have seen her throughout Cleveland and Akron in shows at Beck Center for the Arts, Cassidy Theatre, Karamu House, TrueNorth Theatre and Weathervane Playhouse. She has performed in shows such as “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Dream Girls”, and appeared as Nell Carter in “Ain't Misbehavin’,” a musical review that celebrates the music of the Harlem Renaissance and Fats Waller.

Her love of theatre and performing is apparent as she shares some of her experiences. One of the best things about being an actor, she believes, is bringing her own perspective to a character. Sometimes she’ll see something she likes about the way another actor moves or responds to a situation, but she interprets each performance in her own way. Her natural talent for performing -- including a great singing voice -- serves Cleveland's theatre community well, and it's apparent that her vivid imagination, and the ability to empathize with the characters she plays, are seamlessly knitted with that innate capability, “When you’re an actor and reading a script, you get to feel the character and do what you think they should do.”

Having worked with a number of local directors, Tonya has experienced a range of methods and styles that she enjoys working with and adapting. She sees that each director has a different vision that moves her in different directions, “My job as an actor,” she says “is to portray the director’s vision.”

Once the show begins, though, it’s up to her and her colleagues to keep it together. She shares a great story of her performance in “Intimate Apparel” at Weathervane Playhouse in Akron, for which she was awarded a Chanticleer Award. It took place in a smaller, more intimate theatre, where the audience is inches from the stage. “I very rarely left the stage. I remember in one scene, my colleague and I were face to face for a dialogue, and she forgot her line. I was lacing her corset in the scene and she turns around to look at me; I can tell just by the look in her eyes that she couldn’t remember her line, which was ‘Mercy, what you must think of me.’ So I continue to fix up her corset, and I look at her and say ‘Mercy.’ The light clicked back on in her eyes and we continued the show. It was all very fast. Afterward, the director came up to me saying ‘what actor prompted another actor with just one word?! That was so awesome!’”

Although she is always looking to perform both musical and dramatic theatre, Tonya has a number of other talents. As a film actress, she will make an appearance in the upcoming movie “Made in Cleveland” which showcases the talent of Clevelanders both in front and behind the scenes. The World Premiere showing will take place at Lakeshore 7 Theater on June 13th. The film will, subsequently, be released in selected theaters across the country on June 21, 2013.

In addition, she started making jewelry as a hobby, needing a certain something to go with an outfit here and there. She shares “When I was young, my grandmother would look at something and analyze it and say, ‘I could do this. All you do is put this piece together with this piece.’ So as I got older, I began to do the same thing.” After obtaining the material, and with some help from the internet and the library, she began by crafting earrings. She was wearing some of her hand-crafted jewelry while volunteering for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Underground Railroad education program, when one of the other volunteers shared that a boutique in Peninsula, OH was looking for pieces to sell. She approached them with her work and they placed it in their store. She remembers “I had that wonderful moment that artists have when selling their work for the first time!” Tonya has since grown to making her own beads out of recycled wall paper and fabrics as well as other types of jewelry using different materials.

If that weren’t enough, Tonya is also working at Northeast Shores Development Corporation as a Program Assistant for Collinwood Rising and their partnership with the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, Artists in Residence (www.welcometocollinwood.com). The programs are designed to creatively combat urban vacancy and other neighborhood priorities in Cleveland’s North Shore Collinwood neighborhood. They provide artists with access to funds and affordable space, as well as encourage them to engage more deeply with other neighborhood residents. They’ve invested in artists in a relatively small geographic area as a clear example of what artists and neighborhoods can give one another. Tonya has enjoyed working on the programs, and shares that it is giving back to her own creative endeavors. She has learned about a lot of programs for artists not only in North Shore Collinwood, but throughout Cleveland. “I’m meeting a lot of artists doing similar things. It was meant to happen -- me working at Northeast Shores.”