Southeast Missouri State University senior Jose Alpizar has landed in the roller coaster capital of the world this summer, where the twists and turns of multiple daily performances has been an ultimate thrill ride.
The musical theatre major is singing and dancing the summer away in “Lights, Camera, Action!” at Cedar Point, a show at an amusement park on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio. The show is a 30-minute musical revue of different classic movie musicals, where is he is singing and dancing in songs from “Hairspray,” “West Side Story,” “Newsies,” “Grease,” “Fame” and others.
While the 150-year-old amusement park is known for its roller coasters, “their live entertainment is pretty high quality as well,” he said.
“The show in itself is very active, so having to perform it 32 times a week is going to take a lot of stamina since we’re singing and dancing the entire time,” he said. “That’s what I’m most excited to take away from this experience — keeping up with my body and creating that stamina (both physical and vocal) and maintaining it even after I graduate and go into the real world because I know things are just as intense there as they are here.”
Alpizar landed the internship opportunity after attending the 2017 SETC (Southeastern Theatre Conference) where he auditioned for more than 50 theaters – with Cedar Point being one of them.
“They gave me a callback to come meet the producer and casting director personally and sing for them again,” he said. “I got a call from them offering me a job a few days later!”
Before beginning his summer role, he participated in two weeks of rehearsals learning vocals and choreography. Once the show opened, he has performed five times a day Sundays-Wednesdays and six times a day on Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s very much ensemble-orientated, with solo sections thrown in,” he said.
Alpizar says the networking opportunities are tremendous because Cedar Point draws performers from all over the country. Cruise lines also come to audition Cedar Point performers, which could open the door to other opportunities down the road, he said.
Outside of his strenuous performing schedule, he says he is enjoying Sandusky, which he describes as “very much like Cape Girardeau in that they’re both small towns with history. It’s really nice to go explore their downtown the way we have our downtown,” he said.
He says he also has enjoyed spending time at the beach on Lake Erie with his fellow cast members, and “Cleveland is only about 45 minutes away, so I see many road trips in my future!”
Alpizar, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in musical theatre, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was just a year and a half old. He was raised in the Memphis, Tennessee, area and learned about Southeast when he was a high school senior. A friend pursuing a dance major at Southeast suggested he tour the main campus and River Campus.
“I was in love with the River Campus after touring it, but I was sold on the school after seeing a production of ‘Legally Blonde’ that night,” he said. “I was convinced I wanted to come here and I knew that this University was special.”
Looking back on his time at Southeast, Alpizar says, “I simply cannot imagine myself going anywhere else for college.”
As a Southeast student, he has had the opportunity to serve as a student ambassador in the Office of Admissions and perform in casts of “The Addams Family,” “On The Town, and “A Chorus Line” at the River Campus.
“In my time here at Southeast, I have grown immensely as a performer, all thanks to the unstoppable faculty that want nothing more than for you to succeed in show business, as well as the opportunities we get,” he said.
Last December, Alpizar joined five other Southeast students who traveled to New York City to perform an off-off Broadway staged reading of an original musical that Dr. Kenn Stilson, chair of The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, and Southeast student Cody Cole wrote.
“This was an awesome opportunity that gave me the chance to work alongside business professionals,” he said. “Not many, if any other schools can give their students this opportunity.”
Ultimately, he says his long-term goal after graduating from Southeast is to end up on Broadway in New York City.
“That’s been my goal for so many years, and I feel like the work I’m putting in at Cedar Point is really pushing me towards that as a singer, dancer and overall performer, which makes me very happy,” he said.