Melissa Charles (CLAS ’98) is the President of DMR Adventures, a production company in Charlottesville, VA specializing in live events, workshops and theater camps for children. Melissa is the Drama Teacher at the Peabody School and manages social media for the Heritage Theatre Festival.
HoosNetwork: What do you remember most fondly about your Drama coursework at the University of Virginia and what was your most memorable performance?
Melissa: The most memorable thing was my relationship with my professors – the way they challenged me, supported me and taught me how to open my eyes to new ideas and take risks. They have supported me as student and I’m still close with all of my former teachers at U.Va.
HoosNetwork: These days you wear many hats – a drama teacher, social media manager, and you’re the President of DMR Adventures which is production company. What are you most passionate about professionally?
Melissa: Whatever I’m working on at the time is what I’m most passionate about. I started DMR Adventures in the hopes of making dreams a reality and bringing musical theater to hundreds, if not thousands of families. I’ve really poured my heart and soul into it. It’s exciting to see it continuing. At DMR, I’ve started a leadership program which is now over five years old. I’m most proud of that. The kids who have been involved in the program have gone on to pursue careers in the performing arts. Four former participants in the youth leadership program are now teaching in my camps.
DMR Adventures stands for “dreams made real,” and it’s a production company specializing in musical theater classes and production that are often geared towards children and family audiences. We just finished a “Broadway Baby” camp, which was more of a musical review. Right now my camp is performing “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
HoosNetwork: If a current student came to you and said, “I want to be an actor.” What advice would you give them?
Melissa: For college students I would first tell them to take as many business classes as they can if they definitely want to pursue a career in the performing arts. It’s not enough to just be a talented artist. You need to market your art. It’s important to get paid and business classes will help.
HoosNetwork: You’re also working on your Masters of Arts, Arts Administration. Why did you decide to go back to school? You are heading to the University of Kentucky in the fall! Are you excited?
Melissa: I’ve been craving the idea of being a student. I’ve been teaching for over five years and I’ve still got a lot to learn. My goal is to work as an artistic director, whether that’s my own or another theatre company that makes sense in terms of my family and situation. The added degree will help with DMR Adventures, and all the things I’m already doing.
HoosNetwork: You are one of our very generous donors here at the University of Virginia. Thank you so much! Why do you continue to give each year?
Melissa: I thinking giving back is not just something good to do, it’s our duty. We get so many things from our experience at U.Va., it’s our responsibility to encourage others to give and come to the university in any way we can. Even if the gift is small, it’s great to feel a part of it all.
DMR is also producing fall classes, a cabaret series, a production of Cinderella (Nov. 15 & 16) and master classes/workshops with Broadway artists and other professionals.