More than 30 Northwestern State University theatre and dance students are working throughout the United States in professional theatre and dance jobs this summer. The students are working for 15 different companies or facilities in 11 states in a variety of performing, technical and business-related roles.
“One of the things I always here from prospective students and parents is how will anyone succeed in this industry? Isn’t it very competitive? Should I plan for a backup and pick up another major or minor?” said Brett Garfinkel, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Northwestern State. “The wonderful thing about the Theatre & Dance Department is that regardless of the student’s passion and specialty we at NSU prepare our students for the professional world.”
Garfinkel said several professional companies come to NSU annually to audition students. He said students also submit, audition and attend the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) that allows them to audition for over 50 companies looking to hire talent for summer or for year-round employment. Approximately 35 current students or alumni have worked at Cedar Point Amusement Parks in Sandusky, Ohio, over the last two years. The amusement park hires over 300 performers and technicians for the whole summer.
“Many students received multiple offers and had to make the decision that would be best for them,” said Garfinkel. “I am so proud to see out students get professional while work while still in school and then of course after they graduate.”
Mary Scott Pourciau and Jordan Thomas of Baton Rouge, Dylan Fuselier of Chalmette, Nicole Lala of Kenner, Sarah Lord Holoubek, Myjoycia Cezar, John Jefferson and Trevor Van Eaton of Shreveport, Andrea Mouton, Damari Padilla and Joyous Celestine of Lafayette, Joy Davis of Minden, Mallory Speir of Pineville and Elvin Froylan Hernández Diaz of Honduras are at Cedar Point Amusement Park.
Pourciau is dancing with the Swell Tones and performing in the 150th Anniversary Spectacular night show and parade. Thomas is a host for park shows. Fuselier is a dancer in the Street Squad/Peanuts block party and performs on stilts in the night show/parade. Lala is a member of the wardrobe crew. Holoubeck plays Chess Watkins on Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island. Cezar is stage manager for their Motown show “Come See About Me” and will also work their Night Show/Parade and Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee, from August 2022 to July 2023 as a stage management intern. Andrea Mouton is a character escort and swing host. Davis plays the role of Whisper Perez in the Forbidden Frontier. Speir is a character escort.
Jefferson is a performer in the street squad. Padilla is attendant usher escort at Aldrich Theatre. Celestine is a costumer/wardrober. Diaz is a dresser. Van Eaton is a performer in Snake River.
Mikiah Odum of Marshall, Texas, is at Camp Wicosuta in Hebron, New Hampshire, as a camp counselor and theatre teacher. Kristi Contreary of Geismar is in “TEXAS Outdoor Musical,” in Canyon, Texas, as a performer. Ashley Stevens of Baton Rouge is in the 85th Anniversary of The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina, as a member of the ensemble and on-stage swing. Jeremiah Mitchell of Alexandria is a costume character at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Victoria Hickman of Slidell is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in the Disney College Program.
Leslie Israel of Lake Charles is with Christian Youth Theatre as director of the kid’s camp. D’Sherrick Williams of Marshall, Texas, earned a one-year contract as a fulltime company member at STREB Extreme Action Company, Brooklyn, New York. Liam Gardner of Gonzales is working with New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, New York, as head electrician. Austin Anderson of New Orleans is a performer at Bigfork Summer Playhouse, Bigfork, Montana. Amber Slater of Minden is at Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, New Hampshire, as props designer/assistant scenic designer.
Jose Arrieta Cuesta of Cartagena, Colombia, is at Starlight Camp in Starlight, Pennsylvania, as an activity specialist/dance instructor. Drelan Evans of Baton Rouge is at Ogden Musical Theatre in Ogden, Utah, playing the Donkey in “Shrek The Musical.” Abigail Aldridge of Covington and Summer Jones of Shreveport are at Bigfork Summer Playhouse in Bigfork, Montana. Aldridge is a performer and Jones is props manager. Christian Osborne of Plaquemine and Erin Fallis are performers at Thingamajig Theatre Company in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fallis received a year-round contract with Ballet Legato in Cleveland, Ohio, as an apprentice.
Marshall Merritt of Shreveport is working at Post Playhouse in Crawford, Nebraska, as a performer. He has the roles of Van Buren in “Damn Yankees,” Herr Zeller/Von Trapp understudy in “The Sound of Music,” Father Morse in “Desperate Measures” and Minstrel/Brother/Jeremiah/Priest/Ensemble/Nostradamus understudy in “Something Rotten!” Sophie Stechmann of Chalmette is directing and performing in the Missoula (Montana) Children’s Theatre production of “The Frog Prince.”