ARC performer finds her place onstage


Stephanie Lee

Theater major Chelsea Ciechanowski is attending her third semester at American River College. She previously attended Folsom Lake College, but this is her first role in a stage production, playing Milady de Winter.

Chelsea Ciechanowski returns to the theater as Milady de Winter in “The Three Musketeers.”

Chelsea Ciechanowski may not be the biggest name in the American River College Theater, but if you ask any of her peers in the theater department, you may start to wonder why. Ciechanowski plays Milady de Winter, the lead female role in ARCs “The Three Musketeers.”

While this is Ciechanowski’s first time auditioning on this campus, she is no stranger to the performing arts. “I’ve always been a performer, always danced or sang something. Ever since I was little, my mom would have me in dance class, or a gymnastics class,” Ciechanoski explains. “Any time we’d have guests over, I’d be showing them some new dance I learned or some new song I could sing.”

At Oak Ridge high school, she had roles in several shows, including “The Odd Couple” and “Dracula,” directed by her high school drama instructor, John Healy. “He was an amazing man. He worked on Broadway for years. He was an outstanding human being, he really inspired me to get into theater,” said Ciechanowski.

She first attended Folsom Lake College studying medicine for two and a half years. “While I was passionate about theater, it is far from a lucrative pursuit, and neurosurgery was my second interest,” she said. While still doing pre-med, she only auditioned for one show at FLC but didn’t get a part. “I came to the conclusion that [studying medicine] definitely wasn’t for me. I couldn’t spend the rest of my life giving good people bad news,” commented Ciechanowski. She switched her major to theater.

Just over a year ago, after finishing all of the acting classes at FLC, she switched colleges and began attending ARC as a theater major. “The Three Musketeers” is the first time she is back on stage since high school.

Like most artistic people, she is most critical of herself and her abilities. The cast happens to disagree; Julian Strode, who plays a musketeer and didn’t know Ciechanowski before the production, said, “She is perfect for the part. When I was looking at auditions, without a question in my mind I knew she was going to get it, I couldn’t think of anyone else in that role.”

“She’s very professional, she’s easy to direct, and she has a good work ethic,” says director Pam Downs. “I think that the audience will be very pleased with her performance in this play.”

“The Three Musketeers” has very few female roles, according to cast member Peter Messick. Almost every actress auditioned for the part of Milady de Winter. “Some [actresses] came in with a preconceived idea of how the character would be, and that didn’t work out,” explained Messick. “During [Chelsea’s] audition, she brought a natural aspect, something others couldn’t. She was just there to audition. She didn’t care what part she got, she really wanted to be part of the theater.”

“Since being in this production I’ve felt better,” Ciechanowski said. “I’m happy where I am, other people think I should be where I am, and I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.”