Local Student Set to Shine on International Broadway Tour

By Dalina Michaels   |   April 9, 2024
Chance Challen is taking to the big stage (courtesy photo)

Santa Barbara is alive with the sound of music… especially for one young performer! Chance Challen is preparing to leave our cozy community to join the international Broadway tour of the beloved musical, The Sound of Music. This incredible opportunity showcases the talent and dedication of Chance, who has continually demonstrated outstanding ability and passion for the performing arts.

Chance has been honing his skills for years – and he is only 10! He has already performed with nearly every performance company in town: Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara Revels, Stage Left Junior, Showstoppers, Young Singers Club, SING!, Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara School of the Performing Arts, and Out of the Box Theatre Company. 

“Chance’s passion for the stage was evident early on.” says Brian McDonald, Director of Education and Outreach for Ensemble Theatre Company. “Chance has been part of the ETC’s Young Actors Conservatory programs over recent years and has consistently showcased his exceptional talent. What truly distinguishes Chance is his fearless approach and relentless commitment to perfecting every scene and song he takes on. It is with immense pride that we at ETC celebrate Chance’s debut in a
professional role!”

Others have echoed these sentiments. SING! Musical Director Erin McKibben shares, “Chance has participated in SING! for two years, including a performance of La Bohème at the Granada Theatre with Metropolitan Opera star and Music Academy alumna, Michelle Bradley, at the Music Academy gala. He quickly became a singer chosen for special performances and features, not only because of his natural ability but he is also a joy to be around and lifts up his colleagues!”

Indeed, Chance has captured the attention of industry professionals with his exceptional talent and commitment to his craft. Now he is set to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, sharing the stage with seasoned performers and bringing the timeless story of the von Trapp family to audiences around the world.

“I am so excited to be joining the international tour of The Sound of Music,” says Chance. “This is a dream come true for me, and I want to thank everybody for the support they have given me so far!”

So what was it like to get that call from Broadway? Chance breaks it down: “Everything happened really quickly! I flew to New York City for the audition, which lasted over four hours. I got to meet a lot of other kids who also love to perform. We left the audition room and five minutes later my mom got an email saying I got the part! I can’t believe I am actually leaving for Asia in less than two weeks!”

With thousands of kids auditioning from all over the country and, actually, the world…Chance will now be joining the cast playing Kurt, the youngest brother in the von Trapp family.

Directed by Tony winner Jack O’Brien and produced by Broadway International Group and Broadway Asia, the international tour of The Sound of Music promises to captivate audiences with its unforgettable music, heartwarming story, and stunning production values. From the soaring melodies of “Edelweiss” to the spirited antics of the von Trapp children, this timeless classic continues to enchant audiences of all ages.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Chance and all that he has accomplished,” says Christina Broderick, Head of School at The Riviera Ridge School. “This is a testament to his talent, hard work, and dedication to the performing arts. We have no doubt that he will shine bright on the international stage and make our community proud.”

As Challen prepares to embark on this exciting new chapter in his career, he will not be going alone; mom Betsy Challen will be traveling with him. 

There are definitely a lot of logistics to figure out; namely, Chance will be stepping into a cast that has already been performing together for over a year. Mom Betsy explains. “The production team is going to work with him for a couple weeks when he arrives in Hong Kong to get him up to speed. He will have a couple rehearsals as well with the actress who plays Maria, since those characters have a special dance they do together in the show. In addition, Chance will have to learn all the lines, songs, and choreography. The nice thing is once he is fully ready – they will put him on stage.”

It is a pretty intense schedule for anyone, let alone a 10-year-old. The students all have to do three-hours of mandatory schooling a day and Chance will have an on-set teacher working with him. Once school is done, it is just enough time to have lunch and then head out to the theater. The cast needs to arrive by 5 pm for the 8 pm show, and then usually don’t get back to the hotel till after 11 pm. They stay in hotels and travel around via buses and planes – depending on what city they go off to. It will be a lot, agrees Chance’s mom, but he is up for it. “All Chance wants to do is make people happy and perform. He just loves to see people smile in the audience.”

And Chance loves making not just the audience smile, but also his fellow cast members! “He would entertain everyone during our sound checks – singing and dancing to Michael Jackson!” says Samantha Eve, Artistic Director for Out of the Box Theatre Company. “When we did Alice by Heart this past winter, Chance knew all his lines… and everyone else’s.”

His journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring performers everywhere, proving that with passion, perseverance, and dedication, anything is possible. “Chance has been studying with us for the past couple years,” says Dauri Kennedy, owner of DMK Voice Studio and also musical director at Riviera Ridge. “He comes in prepared and always ready to work hard. It is great to see his training and efforts pay off with this upcoming tour!”

In addition to his mom, Chance will have plenty of virtual support with him… as he (or rather, his mom!) will be posting updates on his Instagram page so we can all see what is going on across the globe! 

And even across the globe, he still wants to make sure to stay in touch with his family and friends in Santa Barbara: “Chance is trying to savor these last couple weeks in town before he leaves,” says mom Betsy: “He definitely is a Santa Barbara kid at heart. He loves going with his friends to grab a burger from Chubbies or to play tennis at SB Tennis Club. He does Cotillion and is on his school volleyball team. We are planning to get “WhatsApp” so he can stay connected to all his friends here!”

Santa Barbara is certainly going to be smiling alongside him and can’t wait to hear about his adventures.

For more information about the international tour of The Sound of Music, including tour dates and ticket information, please visit https://rodgersandhammerstein.com/.

To learn more about Chance’s journey and follow his adventures on tour, follow him on social media


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