Thirty Northwestern State theatre students or recent alumni are performing across the country in professional theatre and dance jobs this summer. The students are working in for 14 different companies or facilities in nine states and Canada in a variety of performing, technical and business-related roles.
“The best thing for a performer and a technician in the performing arts is professional experience,” said Brett Garfinkel, chair of NSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “The Department of Theatre and Dance has been preparing its students for a professional career in the field since the moment they step on campus. These summer contracts help support these student’s future career in the field by giving them professional experience before graduating from NSU. This gives our students a huge advantage by having more credits on their resume making them more hirable for the future.”
Garfinkel said before the pandemic several professional companies annually came to Natchitoches to audition Northwestern State theatre and dance students. Many students are also normally able to audition during professional theatre conferences. During the past academic year, Garfinkel arranged a number of virtual auditions for students.
“For me, getting a summer stock contract is always a great opportunity because it allows me to gain professional experience and meet new people,” said Myjoycia Cezar of Shreveport who is working as a stage manager at Highland Playhouse in Highlands, North Carolina. “In the theatre industry, a lot of emphasis is put on who you know and get to learn from, so I’m always grateful to be able to go somewhere new and meet people while actually pursuing the career I’m training for before having to return to school. Along with this, another huge asset that comes from summer work is being able to add more professional experience credits, skills and references to my resume before graduating and going into the professional world on a long-term basis.”
Those working professionally this summer are Sarah Lord Holoubek of Shreveport, Mary Scott Pourciau and Kristi Contreary of Baton Rouge, Kaylon Willoughby of Ponchatoula, Abigail Miller of Slidell, Christian Osborne of Plaquemine, Ashlyn Pettiss of Prairieville, Dylan Fuselier of Chalmette, Sophie Stechman of Meraux, Joy Davis of Minden, Luther Brooks IV of Lafayette, Allyson Adams of Mansfield, Dawnie Krahan of Lafayette and Alphonse Engram Shine of DeRidder are working in various roles at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.
Mary Fletcher of Shreveport will play Madison, an autistic cashier, in the movie “Amber the Acrobat” being filmed in Shreveport.
Erin Fallis of Pineville, Jesse McFarland of Whitehouse, Texas, and Robert McCandish of Monroe are working at “TEXAS! The Outdoor Musical.”
Ryland Mandel of New Orleans and Caitlin Foster of LaPlace are at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah. Kyle Munson of Prairieville is performing at Okoboji Summer Theatre in Okoboji, Iowa, and will then work on a nine-month contract at Stephen’s College in Missouri. Andrew Palmintier of Lafayette is at Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama in Chillicothe, Ohio. Nicole Lala of Kenner will work at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie. Grace Cummings of Calhoun is at Canterbury Summer Theatre in Michigan City, Indiana. D’Sherrick Williams of Marshall, Texas, is at Camp B’Nai B’rith of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Chase Crane of Livingston is at Thin Air Theatre Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Dustin Huffman of Maybank, Texas, will work at Main Street Theatre in Houston. Trevor Brown of Metairie is with Thingamajig Productions in Pegosa Springs, Colorado. Maci Walgamotte of Slidell will work for the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan.
Cezar worked remotely with a New York City theatre company last summer and is glad to be able to work in person this year.
“Last summer working remotely was a great opportunity because I was able to work with a company in New York that I otherwise would not have been able to because of how far away it is and the expenses,” said Cezar. “I’m very excited since this will be my first professional stage management experience It’ll be nice to meet people in person, explore a new city, get the full experience of working a summer stock and just enjoy things getting closer to normal.”