BIRMINGHAM—Joining the cast of Red Mountain Theatre Company’s 2016 production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid was a no-brainer for 21-year-old Madeline Chandler.
She’d been a part of the RMTC family since 2010, as a member of the Conservatory Ensemble, and she’s performed in more than 10 shows, including The Sound of Music, Hairspray!, Legally Blonde and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
As Chandler and the rest of the cast rehearsed for upcoming production, life took an unexpected turn for Chandler when her father suddenly passed away.
“The show biz adage ‘The show must go on’ applied literally and figuratively,” RMTC Executive Director Keith Cromwell recalled. “Chandler picked herself up and went on with the show. In fact, her entire family was there for opening night.”
Chandler, a 2013 graduate of John Carroll Catholic School and a senior at Rider University in Lawrence, N. J., was forced to assess the realities of continuing her education after her family’s financial position had shifted.
Hoping to provide support for a dedicated RMTC alumnus, Cromwell encouraged Chandler to apply for a newly developed scholarship: The Robert Raiford & Zane Rhoades Talent Builder Award.
After a formal application and in-person interviews with members of the James Hatcher Founders Fund Committee and RMTC leadership, Chandler was awarded the $12,000 scholarship to put toward her senior year.
“When I learned that I was the recipient of the scholarship, I felt extremely honored and appreciative for receiving this significant award,” Chandler said. “Receiving this award means so much to me because it allows me to finish my senior year at Rider University. Thank you Red Mountain Theatre Company for believing in me and helping me follow my dream!”
After returning to Rider to start fall classes, Chandler, who will graduate in the spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre, said this scholarship has allowed her to focus on her studies and training rather than worrying about the finances of it.
She said the Robert Raiford & Zane Rhoades Talent Builder Award directly affected her success at Rider, a university Chandler learned about through the programs at RMTC. She met one of the musical theatre heads of Rider University, Robin Lewis, at a workshop, which led to her joining its top-notch theatre program.
“It means the world to me that I was selected for this scholarship,” Chandler said. “I feel so incredibly honored to have received it and cannot thank RMTC enough! I’m so excited to embark on my senior year and take the world by storm. I feel all my hard work is paying off!”