CAPA students spend summer performing professionally

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Patrons of Northwestern State University’s theatre program laughed along with the cast of “Nunsense II,” this year’s Summer Dinner Theatre production, but during the summer, many other students from the School of Creative and Performing Arts travel around the country and the world showcasing their talent.

More than 35 NSU students are participating in summer productions as close as Shreveport and as far away as Germany.

NSU has established itself as a fertile recruiting ground for companies and theatres looking for quality summer personnel, said Scott Burrell, head of NSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

“Cedar Point, the famous amusement park in Ohio, came to Natchitoches to interview students for their entertainment division and hired a number of ours,” Burrell said. “Other than Disney, Cedar Point is the largest operation like that in the country. It shows how talented our students are to secure those spots.”

Those working at the Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park include singer/dancer Marissa McMickens, vocalist/musician Jenna Blayke Cornett and audio technicians Myra Martinez and Briana Acosta.

Maddie Fry and Jesse Kortus will be crossing an ocean to work in Hamburg, Germany, at the International Performing Arts Institute Musical Theatre.

Three more Demons will make their way to New York as a costume designer (Mary Reed), intern (Luke Raines) and props artist (Lauren Guilliot).

A handful of students will take to the outdoors as participants in TEXAS Outdoor Musical in Canyon, Texas. Dancers include Charles Anderson Jr., Jayzen Boger, Taylor Young, Joey Carroll and Asher Van Meter.

“These students always show out, and we get feedback on how well they did and on how well they are trained,” Burrell said.

Christopher Davidson is a co-stage manager and props designer at the Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre.

Two students (Elizabeth Jones and Emma Rivet) will have tales to tell after their summer at the Canterbury Summer Theatre in Michigan City, Indiana.

Jones and Rivet won’t be far from Indiana counterpart Madalyn Mullins, who will be a props assistant in New Harmony, Indiana.

Savannah Thibodeaux will be a little south as a production stage manager in Prestonburg, Ky.

Several more jetted for the mid-East Coast to places like Flat Rock, North Carolina (Jhalon Thomas) and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (Dwight Robinette).

The rest will work in theatres in Louisiana and Mississippi with the majority finding roles at Shreveport’s Little Theatre.

Many student musicians are traveling and performing as well.  Jolie Gonzales Masmela
will participate in the Miami Music Festival over three weeks June 28th – July 18.

“I was accepted as a participant in the Conducting Institute, so, I will be in the conducting workshop,” Masmela said.  “As a participant, I will be in intensive master classes with world-renowned teaching artists such as the great Maestro David Effron. We will have orchestral reading with Miami Music Festival Opera Orchestra, daily class sessions and we will perform an orchestral concert to be held July 14.”

A contingency of music and dance students, Francisco Ballestas, Ronald Rodriguez, Alanna Benoit, Chelsey Goldsmith, Logan Terrell, Luis Osorio and Addison Pellegrino, conducted masterclasses during a residency in Cartagena, Colombia, and performed in a sold out recital in Cartagena’s oldest theatre.

Burrell said no matter how far a student travels, summer experience is essential to landing professional jobs upon graduation.

“You want to leave here with resume credits,” Burrell said. “You can put that you have a degree on your resume, but that’s not going to cut it.

“Whether you’re doing shows here or shows elsewhere professionally, people want to know what experience you have on stage or back stage.”

For more information on NSU’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, degree programs and local performance schedules, visit

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