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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Virginia Pillion was bitten by the acting bug at an early age

Virginia Pillion
Virginia Pillion

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | July 30, 2014

Virginia Pillion's love of theatre began before she started school, and her first role was on the stage at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.

"I've always liked going to the Barter, and I had taken some of their classes," she says. "I decided to audition for "Annie' when I was in the first grade. Thankfully, I got the part of Molly. After that, I caught the acting bug."

While working on "Annie," she discovered that "I enjoyed working with the other actors and being onstage. Learning about the way it all worked was interesting. I wanted to learn more and do more shows."

Her role in "Annie" remains her favorite, but she would love the opportunity to play the lead role one day. "My favorite Broadway show is "Matilda,' and that is also a dream role. "Wicked' is a fantastic show as well."

Virginia isn't just waiting for the opportunity for one of her dream roles; she's had many other roles already.
"At Barter, I have been in "Annie', "It's a Wonderful Life,' "A Christmas Carol,' "Tarzan' and "Les MisÚrables.' At Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville in 2011, I played Gracie Shinn in "The Music Man.' I have also been in an independent film and a short film locally and several local commercials including the Abingdon Tourism video. I have performed with Niswonger Children's Hospital in their One Singular Sensational Evening three times, and won the talent competition in 2012."

She says that playing Cosette in "Les MisÚrables" was "a hard role for me, because I had to show a lot of sadness. Most of my other roles have been happy roles, so they were easier to play. I loved performing with the Symphony of the Mountains because it was very moving, and I learned about performing with a large orchestra."

Being in musicals, like "Annie" and "Les MisÚrables," offers Virginia the opportunity to exercise her musical talents.

"I like to sing as much as I like to act, so I take every opportunity I can to sing as well as to act. I was in my school's new bluegrass band this year and learned to play the banjo."

Virginia says that she likes acting because "I like getting to meet new people and feeling the satisfaction of making people happy. Acting gives me the chance to have fun first of all. It has also given me confidence, the ability to speak and sing in front of groups and a sense of responsibility. It is a great way to express myself."

Acting is a team effort, and Virginia has had many influential teachers. "Rick Rose has influenced me by teaching me about having a good stage presence, projecting my voice, and by letting me be a part of theatre at Barter. Amanda Aldridge helped me learn the choreography for shows I have been in. Katy Brown has always been very sweet to help me and has also directed shows I have been in. Ashley Campos also helped with dance and is always encouraging onstage and off. Wendy Piper was my "ape mother' in Tarzan, and was kind and helpful as well. I have learned a lot from watching these actors and the others that I have worked with."

This summer she has been swimming and relaxing. She continues learning to play the banjo and piano and is always on the lookout for new roles. Recently, she filmed a commercial for Johnston Memorial Hospital.

"I would love to continue to perform. Also, I would like to be a dermatologist one day. But, this fall, I am starting middle school," she says.

Virginia will be 12 in August. She is entering sixth grade at EB Stanley Middle School. She lives in Abingdon with her parents, Dr. Todd and Amanda Pillion, and her three brothers, Teddy, Henry and George.