New York University, BS 2001 (Music Education Major, Specialty in Voice)
Anya Wallach often found herself in the back of the ensemble in high school. So she took a different path to achieve professional theatre success.
In 1995, at age 16 and a Greeley Sophomore, Anya formed The Random Farms Kid’s Theater. While initially her intent was to earn a bit of summer income, to date, tens of thousands of children have taken part in Random Farm’s productions (and the initial troupe was 13 children). They’ve hailed from Westchester to Upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and range in age from kindergarten through college. Random Farm’s home base was initially her parents basement (in, of course, the Random Farms neighborhood) moving to other locations as it grew. Its current home is a 6,000-square-foot home space in Elmsford, which includes six rehearsal studios.
There is so much interest in the Random Farms story, that Anya just got a book deal for a fiction children’s series based on her real-life experience. The first two books are due out next winter. Anya noted, “Growing up in Chappaqua afforded me many opportunities that a lot of other young people don’t have. It’s a liberal community with parents (including mine) who are really invested in their children’s lives. My parents and friends were always supportive of me, though it was hard to convince them in the beginning that putting on plays was more than just a hobby!”
At Greeley, Anya took acting classes and participated in the Theatre Repertory Company. She fondly remembers Senior Musical, in which she played Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof.
She is quick to point out that not always getting the plum parts in high school did not predict her future success. After college she worked professionally as an actress, qualifying for and joining SAG and Actor’s Equity. As The Random Farms Kid’s Theater grew, she says, “It became more and more difficult to devote the time to auditions. I had to have an honest conversation with myself about where I had the most potential, so I gave up acting”.
Anya is often asked her advice to High School students about which type of college theatre program is best to pursue. She typically advises that “you should go to college to get the best education you can, and a liberal arts program may serve you better in the long run than one focused on a single subject…That is, unless the student cannot imagine studying anything BUT theatre, in which case they should consider a BFA program”.
Anya Wallach feels she never traveled down the most traditional path. She noted, “It’s hard to understand that there are alternatives, when you’re in high school and surrounded by lots of people doing lots of the same things. I had to invent my own way to be successful. “