Disinclined to the athletic pursuits of his brothers, Bell found his calling in singing. His mother, who had experience in public performance, encouraged his interest in song. Bell began to perform in church choirs.
As he grew older, Bell pounced on any opportunities he had for practicing his art, joining the Augusta Children’s Chorale, being selected to sing in the Augusta Opera and performing in the Augusta Players theater group.
Now, Bell is preparing to play the role of Bert Healy in a production of Annie, working under the musical’s lyricist and original director Martin Charnin, in what Bell considers his next major step for a career in theater.
At the same time, Bell is coming full circle, having played a role in a production of Annie organized by the Augusta Players.
For Bell, it’s just more evidence for how his upbringing in Augusta contributed to his future. He is quick to tell anyone who asks just how much his years of performing in Augusta meant to him.
“That was my dream, to move to New York and make this my career,” he said. “Looking back, I feel like I was walking on a path to get where I am. But without the inspiration I felt from working with Augusta’s art programs, I would have never gotten this far.”
The experiences he gained from performing in front of Augusta crowds and meeting professional actors inspired Bell to continue pursuing musical performance, eventually leading him to move to New York for more educational and singing opportunities.
“There are not many outlets in North Augusta for that kind of interest,” Bell said. “Musical performance allows me to express myself in a way nothing else even approaches. When I performed in Augusta and saw the other actors that came to coach us, I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ And now, I’m living that out.”
Bell said he is far from ready to begin settling into one particular performing art.
“I have friends up here that went on a Broadway show and haven’t had any acting jobs since,” Bell said. “I’m continuing to move forward and always looking for new things to try. I want to be able to teach others when I get older, and it will really help those I’m teaching if I can tell them about the different fields they can go into from personal experience.”
No matter where Bell decides to go next, those he left behind in Augusta will continue to celebrate his accomplishments.
“He’s a very talented young man, and we’re always glad to see one of our own find a place for themselves in the performing arts,” Augusta Players office administrator Kitty Regan said. “We’re very proud of our young people who take what they learn here and use it professionally.”