STAFF REPORT (Orange County Register)
Published: Nov. 10, 2014 Updated: Nov. 11, 2014 10:57 a.m
Shane Reichel isn’t your typical high school actor. Along with having to deal with the normal trials and tribulations of being a typical high school teenager, Reichel is also autistic. Because of his autism, Reichel has had to actively work on developing his social skills. When he auditioned for “Dracula” in his sophomore year, his teacher at Valencia High School, Grace Stanton, had her reservations because he had trouble controlling his interjections in the classroom. But when she ended up casting him in the role of Renfield, she discovered a hidden gem. “He did his homework and studied all of the old ‘Dracula’ films and created his own character based upon the characters he saw in those films. He was amazing in the role.” This year, Reichel earned the lead in “The 39 Steps,” the school’s fall play. “Two years ago, I would never have believed that this would have happened,” Stanton said. But eight days into rehearsal, “Shane (had) all of Act I lines memorized. His character never leaves the stage for the entire show.”
School: Valencia High School
How did you get involved in theater? I have wanted to be a performer ever since I can remember. In seventh grade, drama class put on one play. I got a small part, but it was a comic part and I really liked making the audience laugh. In high school, it’s bigger, better and Ms. Stanton really makes things fun, realistic and cares about the performance.
What is your favorite play/musical? Who is your favorite playwright/actor? My favorite play/musical is “The Lion King.” I like many actors, but my favorite is Tobey Maguire for being Spider-Man, my childhood hero. If it’s Disney or Marvel, I’ll pretty much go crazy over it! I really like imagining putting together superheroes and Disney characters in movies.
Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as a performer? If so, how did they help you? I’m not sure about mentors, but my biggest support comes from my family and friends. They appreciate me for being me no matter what. Mr. Klepadlo was probably the first person to influence me toward acting as a career. He told me about an open call and I went to my very first movie audition. Ms. Stanton is a big influence for me. She has really gotten to know me over the last two years, being both my drama and English teacher. She doesn’t treat me differently, never makes my autism an issue and really helps me to be a better performer.
What inspires you? One inspiration is that I just love to be up there, on stage, in front of an audience, performing. However, my biggest inspiration is knowing, pursuing and believing that my dreams of being an actor can come true. When you are actually doing it, there is nothing better.
Other than theater, are you involved in any other activities? If yes, what are they? Outside of the theater, I am in my second year of Tiger Tube. This is our school’s weekly news broadcast. I co-anchored once last year, and we make news-related videos about school. I go to the Tiger Woods Learning Center to make my own videos.
What do you get out of performing? Being autistic can create social issues for me. I don’t always say things right or act the way others think I should. It can be very lonely. Being a performer in a production puts me in a social setting that I am good at and can be an active participant in. Plus, it’s my passion and it makes me feel good.
How do the arts figure into your long-term goals? My dream is to be an actor, whether that be stage, TV or movies. It is the kind of career I look forward to doing until the end of time. I also like to write, so maybe someday be a screenwriter and even possibly directing.What is the best advice you have received? I’ve gotten two good pieces of advice. My mom always tells me, “If you do your best, nobody can ever ask more that that.” My friend Julia Burnette says, “Always think positive, because if you think negative, bad things will always happen to you.”