Actor and Mesa native Charlie LeSueur recently left his footprints in cement at the Superstition Mountain Museum for his work preserving a part of television history. Now, LeSueur is working to make a new footprint by developing the theatrical talents of students at Sequoia Star Academy in his role as its performing arts director.
LeSueur was in the television show “Hotel Balderdash” — a kids’ TV show based in Utah — and is a Western film historian. He was honored by Superstition Mountain Museum for his work as a Western film historian, and joins a number of Western actors he grew up watching as a child.
LeSueur now spends his time at Sequoia Star — a seventh through 12th grade online charter school with 65 students in Mesa — and was promoted from teacher to performing arts director.
“I have never seen a school that backs me as far as what I need for our productions,” he said.
Assistant Site Director Lynn McConnell said LeSueur has brought a lot of different talents and skills to the school, some students have even come in specifically to learn acting from him.
“He has made a huge difference in the school because of what he brings,” she said. “He’s actually become a teacher in all of this instead of just putting on a play.”
In his time at Sequoia Star Academy, LeSueur said he has seen the students open up and develop into talented performers.
“Acting is something that not only helps those that want to continue acting, but it also helps people in business,” he said. “Everybody is acting ... We don’t know it, but we do.”
At Sequoia Star Academy, students learn about dance, acting, serving as the tech crew for performances and singing during their electives. In addition to their classes, students participate in afterschool plays, musicals and a performance group called Stars on Stage.
The performances help students grow as people, but LeSueur said they need to balance these activities with their academics.
“This isn’t something we take lightly,” he said. “It’s something we take very, very seriously, but at the same time, grades must be kept up to be in these things.”
LeSueur has taught part-time for the past 20 years while he performs in theater shows in the Valley.
“I thought this might be kind of a cool thing to do,” he said. “Next thing I know I’m teaching acting classes and directing plays.”
At Sequoia, LeSueur works to find opportunities for students to take the skills they have and practice in school and apply them to actual performances on stage or on television.
In his time as the director of performing arts, LeSueur said he hopes to get better and larger stages for the students to use in their performances.
“I hope to build on the Stars on Stage and the plays, and each year come up with bigger and better productions,” he said. “(I hope to get) people recognize that we are, as far as I’m concerned, a leader in performing arts.”
• Shelby Slade is a sophomore at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at email@example.com.