Hudson talents take Young Actors Studio legacy across the country

by Charles Cassady

Young Actors Studio was a Hudson-based youth-theater troupe masterminded by Elyse Romano, and its 15-year run ended in 2020, the curtain rung down by widespread COVID quarantines. But alumni of Romano’s productions and guidance have since distinguished themselves professionally in the performing arts. Just two names who carry the YAS banner forward are Will Price and Drew Louis.

Price is a full-time actor who most recently had a showcase in the first season of 2023 edition of the classic young adult-horror franchise “Goosebumps.” Louis – a.k.a. Andrew Klemm in his Hudson days – is a rising music producer and singer-songwriter, affiliated with such artists as The Gospellers and YENA (on the Sony label).

They literally split the coasts between them.

“New York City is really my favorite city,” said Price of his current residence. “It’s really creative here.”

And the Drew Louis take on Los Angeles: “Although I moved across the country, I genuinely love to come back to my hometown. So much charm, peace and good food, too. Los Angeles needs some better American bar food.”

Price said he also has family still in Hudson. He spent the first five years of his life in Cleveland Heights but grew up in Explorer territory. The attraction to the performing arts came early.

“I always loved movies,” Price said. “My uncle was an animator who worked on the original ‘Space Jam.’ My grandmother would point to his name in the end credits. From that moment, I was a little in awe of filmmaking … and how these movies don’t just ‘appear.’ They are made by people working together.”

Additionally, his grandmother took him to Cleveland Play House shows, exposing him to live stagecraft.

Hudson native Louis, meanwhile, was “born into a musical family.”

“My parents met doing community theater, and all of my siblings and their spouses have careers in the arts,” he explained.

Both credit Young Actors Studio with cultivating their artist interests. 

“It became a little more real to me [when I] was at Young Actors Studio,” Price explained. “Elyse pulled me aside and said, ‘You have a lot of talent for this. You can do this for a living, if you want.’

“I think what I appreciated in that moment was the beginning of my attempting to take something seriously. And I think she recognized that. She didn’t discourage me or write it off. I think she was a true educator in that way.”

Price’s YAS roles included “It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical” and “Oliver!” He encored with studies at Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. His filmography includes the 2021 Apple TV series adaptation of “The Mosquito Coast,” plus episodes of “Endgame” and “The Equalizer.”

“The Young Actors Studio came into my life at the perfect time,” according to Louis, who would continue his education at the Los Angeles College of Music. “I was 10 years old, and my brother, Alex, was battling addiction. Right after my first musical there, he passed away. So, as well as the training aspect, it truly became a second home and a way to pour myself into something productive.”

Loius said his time at YAS gave him the confidence, in particular, to take on a “really cool project.” He recently wrote a musical for RuPaul’s Drag Race’s “Trinity the Tuck.”

“Trinity had heard my work and wondered if I would be interested in creating the music for her project,” he said. “While I’d starred in many shows, and I’ve written many pop songs, I’ve never written a musical. The show ended up really well received and is in talks with theaters in New York and London for this next holiday season.”

Louis has new music projects in the works with Trinity, Nickelodeon’s Madisyn Shipman and Disney’s Joe Serafini. “Working my way into more of a mainstream-pop market,” he explained.

As for Will Price, he is acting in a play being rendered in an alt-venue “in someone’s basement in Brooklyn.” He has two 2024 motion-picture projects, though details are being kept mum. “In the first one, I’m getting an opportunity to work with one of my favorite actors who’s directing this time.”

Price said as a young reader he was familiar with the books by R.L. Stine, Ohio novelist and creator of both “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street.” In the first season of the new Disney+ version of “Goosebumps,” he plays a skateboarder and one of a handful of young people who unwittingly unleash paranormal forces. Don’t bother searching your shelves; Price’s character was an original concept for the show, not found in Stine’s books. Price has not met R.L. Stine but said the creator has approval over the scripts.

The relaunch of “Goosebumps,” however, had a plot twist that not even Young Actors Studio classes could predict.

“I didn’t get to do any publicity for ‘Goosebumps’ because the [Screen Actors Guild actors and writers] strike was happening,” Price recalled. He is proud to say that he walked the picket lines and felt the strike accomplished a positive outcome for creative artists. “We got this colossal sense that we did the right thing.”

For Louis, “the strike only impacted sync music [music specifically for TV and film] which I definitely did see slow down,” he said. “I am lucky that most of my day-to-day with artists was unaffected.”

What advice would Louis give to young Hudsonites who dream of similar performance pursuits?

“If you want to be a singer when you grow up, practice, get lessons, be in every choir class you can. Apply that to any passion really. Obviously, getting good grades is a must but don’t overwork yourself for things you aren’t passionate for. Refocus that into your passion,” he advised. “Sadly, Young Actors Studio is not here anymore but both Hudson Middle School and Hudson High have amazing drama programs.”

Will Price leaves these words of counsel to aspiring thespians: “For someone growing up in Ohio, sometimes there was a feeling that nobody around me did the things I wanted to. … I would say to a little kid who is excited about something, that it is not unachievable. It doesn’t have to be your ‘hobby.’ You don’t necessarily have to have a ‘backup plan.’ I think ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be an actor. I never wanted to be anything else.” ∞

Growing up in a “musical family,” Drew
Louis cut his performing chops in Hudson
before launching a singing-songwriting
career in La La Land. Photos submitted.

Will Price’s appearance in a TV reincarnation
of “Goosebumps,” gained him
notoriety that may soon translate into the
big screen.

A younger Will Price gains valuable
experience on the Young Actors Studio
stage. Photo submitted

Drew Louis shares the spotlight with Young Actors Studio “Chicago” castmates in this Facebook post from 2018.

On our cover (photos): Drew Louis (l) and Will Price are seeking stardom on separate coasts today but got their start in Hudson. The two say studies at the shuttered Young Actors Studio was instrumental in their development and confidence as artists and performers. Photos submitted.