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SPRING 2015
SPOTLIGHT ON

PENN STATE MUSICAL THEATRE

“There are an increasing number of institutions that offer performing arts training, but we have always been pleased with Penn State alums. Just seeing Penn State on the resume puts us at ease—the only question being, will we have a role appropriate to the candidate we have before us.” 
                                                                        - Mel Miller, Artistic Director of Musicals Tonight

THE GRADUATING SENIORS ARE READY FOR THEIR NEXT GREAT ADVENTURE

Penn State’s Class of 2015 shares a little insight on what they’ll miss most, some advice for future students, and what they’re dreaming of next.

Cary Brandon from Mill Valley, California

“I am so looking forward to being a part of this wonderful Penn State alumni community. I can't wait to go on this next big adventure!”

Words of wisdom: Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on you and know you're here for a reason. 

Skill you want to learn next: How to play the banjo!

Kevin Clay from Centreville, Virginia

“I am so thankful for my time at Penn State and have so much confidence in the next classes to come. I can't wait to join the talented group of alumni that continue to bolster the Penn State Musical Theatre program across the country.”

One thing you'll take away from your time at Penn State: To hold on to just being myself. Especially in the performance world, it is so important to be earnest. One thing that our alums get a lot is that Penn State students are "real people."

The dream: Being part of an original cast recording that people will listen to for years to come.

Gregory LaMontagne from Houston, Texas

“Freshmen, keep up your interests in other things besides musical theatre! Basically, just be people.” 

Favorite class at Penn State: Renee Kredell's theatre design

One thing you'll take away from your time at Penn State: The world is so big!

A subject you’d like to learn more about: Philosophy

Laura Landrum from Jackson, Mississippi

Penn State is such a special place! We get the best of both worlds—the best theatre training and an awesome college experience. And the community is AWESOME! I've never met a Penn State alum who didn't automatically want to be friends.”

The thing you will miss most about Penn State: My classmates. Hands down, they are my best friends.

A skill you would like to learn: Trapeze

Connor McRory from Bridgeville, Pennsylvania 

“Thanks to all the alumni who open doors and help the undergrads transition to the Big Apple! I couldn't thank you enough!”

Inspiring words: It's okay if you're wrong! Find the success in failure and grow upon it. 

Valuable lesson learned at Penn State: Being who you truly are will get you a lot further than copying who you want to be. 

The dream: The day I step out on stage in my first Broadway show.  

Kate Ryan from Millville, Massachusetts

“I look forward to meeting past and present Penn State musical theatre students and continuing to have a place in this wonderful community!”

Words of wisdom for the freshmen: Try new things. There are so many incredible opportunities on this campus and within this community. Say yes to as many opportunities given to you while you're here! 

The thing you will miss most about Penn State: There are too many things I will miss about Penn State. I will miss the Theatre Building and the people inside of it.

Liz Schmitz from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

“My favorite classes have been our musical theatre studio classes. It's when our class has worked together the most and we really get to see everyone grow. It's when we put all three skills (acting, singing, dancing) together.”

Words of wisdom: Go for it. Trust that you're here for a reason and do not be shy. Believe that you're good at something you're not, and eventually you'll even fool yourself and end up being genuinely great. Take risks.  
           
What’s next? I always joke and say I'd like to be the person who organizes the Tony Awards...but it's not really a joke!

Jeremy Seiner from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“I think this is one of the best careers because you get to play for a living. You get to pretend you’re someone else and really imagine ‘what if?!’”

The thing you will miss most about Penn State: The constant driving force of the faculty pushing and supporting you to be the best you can be every day.

The dream: Performing with people that I’ve looked up to for years.  

Christian Thompson from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“This place is unlike any other, and I'll always miss it. We Are!”

Favorite class during the last four years: Senior Studio

Inspiring words: Don't let self-doubt get in your way. Fail, and fail hard. The success is that much sweeter.

One thing you'll take away from your time at Penn State: Be present.

Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Thank you Penn State for a memorable four years!”

The thing you will miss most about Penn State: The friends I've made over the last four years and the experiences we shared (like rallying on game day at Beaver Stadium!).

One thing you'll take away from your time at Penn State: The confidence to face what life presents in the years to come.

The dream: Being a part of a Broadway show.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

JULIA FREYER

Musical Theatre alumna Julia Freyer was part of Penn State's talented 2010 class of 13 graduates. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, she lives in the Astoria section of Queens, sometimes with fellow classmate Dan Gleason, who is currently on the national tour of Wicked. Addi McDaniel joined us for this interview, conducted in New York.

Spotlight: Being from Michigan, how did you end up in our program and not Michigan's?

Julia: I went to a very small high school with 64 in my class and knew I wanted to go to a big college, with football and all the things my high school did not have. So I looked at Michigan and Penn State and bigger programs, rather than smaller conservatories. I toured all of the schools a second time, after I was accepted, and Penn State's students were so warm and welcoming. I remember that feeling. I remember Jason Sparks taking me around to all the classes and to lunch. I remember feeling so accepted immediately even though I hadn't decided to go there yet. That was a feeling unlike what I got at other schools.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE!

 

HEAR FROM ALUMS FROM ALL FACETS OF THE INDUSTRY DURING #psuSTAGES

On April 19, the School of Theatre Alumni Program Group will host a day-long festival in State College titled #psuSTAGES. The day will consist of panels and master classes with over 20 working theater professionals from Broadway and beyond who will help students bridge the gap between the academic and professional worlds. These classes are open to anyone in town for Blue-White Weekend! SEE THE FULL SCHEDULE AND BIOS HERE!

SAVE THE DATE: MAY 4, 2015           7:30 p.m. 

 

After 25 years, Cary Libkin has announced his retirement, effective December 2015.

In honor of his service and to celebrate the many successes of the Musical Theatre program, we will have a retirement party for him on May 4, 2015, in New York City. 

Jenny (Lebowitz) Niederhoffer ('98) will graciously host an evening of music and merriment, complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres.

RSVP to jennyelyse@gmail.com for the NYC location. 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOME GREAT NYC RESOURCES

YOUTUBE SPACE NEW YORK

Do you have a YouTube channel? Have you considered it? We all know having an online presence is more important than ever. It creates employment opportunities, it creates credibility, and now there’s an even more exciting reason to share your creativity on YouTube.

In November 2014, Google opened the YouTube Space New York. YouTubers with 5,000 subscribers or more now have a state-of-the-art, FREE place in which to work. This stunning 20,000-square-foot facility is sprawling with sound stages, editing rooms, makeup rooms, voice-over recording rooms, RED cameras, even sets that include a permanent 1950s diner and a New York City subway car! You can literally create the music video of your dreams, record your voice-over reel, film a web series, and anything else you can dream up. If you’re new to the YouTube scene, and don’t have the first clue on how to create a subscriber base, YouTube offers free workshops and classes to learn how to get started.

https://www.youtube.com/yt/space/events-newyork.html

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Did you know that New York City is planning to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years? The Actor’s Fund offers two-hour seminars for performing arts and entertainment professionals that provide an overview of government-subsidized housing in New York City, which is available for low, moderate, and middle-income households. Complex information is broken down into simple, straightforward steps. While demand for these affordable units exceeds the supply, this seminar will help you get organized and prepared to take advantage of opportunities to apply, as well as help you avoid common mistakes. 

http://www.actorsfund.org/services-and-programs/workshops/applying-affordable-housing-step-step-1

 

SEE A PENN STATER NEAR YOU THIS SUMMER

THIS SUMMER Penn Staters are taking the country by storm, performing in almost every state!  

Check this ongoing list to see if they’ll be in a city near you! http://bit.ly/1GedT39

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE INTERACTIVE MAP!

ENTREPRENEURIAL ALUMNI: CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PENN STATERS

Rebecca Miller (’06) has created an exciting new business model that can help grads who are looking to book part-time work for corporate gigs, weddings, and everything else under the sun. She is one of the most hardworking, dedicated, and creative women you’ll ever meet!

What inspired Event Music Concierge?

The idea came about as more and more of my friends were getting engaged, and had no clue where to start in booking music. It dawned on me that most people have never gone through that process before. When you come from a performance background, you have a certain vision of how things will sound in certain scenarios, and are familiar with the performance contracts. I realized a need to create a service that bridged the gap between artists and those looking to book them, a truly transparent agency. 

What kinds of artists are you looking for?

An infinite range of artists! Event planners will come directly to me asking for new acts; I am most valuable to them when I can present them ideas they have not even thought of. The more incredible people I can draw from, the better off everyone is. So anything from a super tight cover band to a DJ/drum duo to a swing band, to non-musical entertainment like dancers, live painters, photo booths.

What advice do you have for Penn Staters working in the industry?

There is so much you cannot control in this industry, but the one thing you can control is your reputation. Be someone people are psyched to work with! It's not just about showing up on time, showing up prepared; it's about bringing ideas to the table, keeping away from the drama, and making yourself valuable. And just as important, whatever this means to you—make a conscious choice to be grateful.  

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Find out more about Event Music Concierge
Contact Rebecca directly at info@eventmusicconcierge.com

 

BUILDING AN EMPOWERED COMMUNITY with Nikol Peterman

“Performers often get stuck believing their art is not good enough, and they spiral in self worth, equating a bad audition to being a failure as a person. There is a constant reaching outside themselves for recognition and this roller coaster sabotages growth, and the overall quality of their work. I want to offer tools for wealth as a performer, and let others know they are not alone.  As we build community, we can build strong networks to support each other, and create from a place of abundance instead of taking jobs that don’t pay the bills, and leave us starving financially and emotionally. Mindset is the beginning, middle, and end, and it’s time to include that in the education of an artist.”

People are so busy with their lives that it’s difficult sometimes to step back and have a minute for yourself. Nikol Peterman (’98) is committed to creating a community for artists to do just that. She describes it as “a little treat that I can offer people to step out of their schedules for a moment and reconnect with an adventure or experience, feel good, and come back to center. It's something I love to do and it's my way of giving back.”

You can sign up at http://eepurl.com/Tcg0n to access Nikol’s weekly newsletter, which will have all sorts of meditations on art, intention, change, authenticity, and our basic intrinsic commonalities. Contact her directly at zenrednyc@gmail.com

READ MORE IN THIS INTERVIEW

 

54 BELOW CONCERT A SUCCESS

School of Theatre alumni reunited for a special concert on Sunday, April 12, organized by fellow alumnus Mike Karns. "The Great Blue and White Way," held at 54 Below in New York City, featured Caroline Bowman, Marcus Paul James, Alan Wiggins, and Natalie Weiss. Other performers included Penn State alumni Gilbert Bailey (Book of Mormon), Rachel Fairbanks (First Wives Club), Jeremy Greenbaum (Newsies), Jim Hogan, Paul Jordan Jansen, Katie Murray, Lexi Rhoades, Sam Sefarian, Laurie Veldheer (Newsies), and Ryan Vona (Once).” The evening was directed by Amy Anders Corcoran, with music direction by Roberto Sinha. "The event was a total success. We had a loud, enthusiastic crowd supporting the alumni on stage. This evening of songs and stories only further solidifies the School of Theatre's place as one of the elite programs in the nation," said Karns.

 

PENN STATE STRONG

Our industry, like many others, is built on relationships. If we each do our part to stay connected, we can continue to make new, exciting connections, inspire others, promote collaboration… the possibilities are infinite!

We appreciate you taking a moment to update your contact info and latest endeavors! http://bit.ly/19GLDJv

 

WE'D LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK

Please send any inquires, comments, or suggestions regarding the newsletter to Addi McDaniel and/or Cary Libkin.