Southeast Sends Eight Theatre Students to New York City to Complete Internships

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 23, 2010 – Southeast Missouri State University Department of Theatre and Dance will send eight students to New York City this summer to complete internships at various theatres and studios.

“Our department is growing rapidly, and the faculty and staff work hard with the students on professional development.  We spend a lot of time helping them find and prepare for these types of situations where they can develop their career,” Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Rhonda Weller-Stilson said.  “These students are proof of the talent we have in our department, and prospective students see that and come here because they know they can be capable of similar success.”

Junior Marc Reichard of Jefferson City, Mo., junior Paul Edwards of Perryville, Mo., sophomore Zach Wachter of Chaffee, Mo., freshman Sami Gross of Cape Girardeau, Mo., sophomore Maria Bartolotta of St. Louis, Mo., junior Christiana Coffey of Independence, Mo., junior Jazmine Patino of Cole Camp, Mo., and junior Emily Johnson of Perryville, Mo., form the largest group of students from Southeast to receive internships in the Big Apple in one summer.

Reichard, Edwards and Wachter will complete acting intensive internships at The Neighborhood Playhouse, while Bartolotta, Coffey and Patino will be helping in the box office, doing front-of-house work for the Lucille Lortel Theatre.  Gross accepted an internship at Stella Adler School of Acting after auditioning at the Southeast Theatre Conference in Lexington, Ky., and Johnson will be learning dance techniques at Broadway Dance Center. 

Johnson hopes to strengthen herself as a dancer as well as an actor to prepare for dancing roles in musicals, so she will take tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern dance classes at Broadway Dance Center.

“My main focus is improving my dance technique. It’s important that a musical theatre performer is skilled in all three areas of acting, singing and dancing, and I really want to use this summer as an opportunity to become a stronger dancer,” Johnson said.

“I’ll keep up with the Off-Broadway Database, which keeps record of everything off-Broadway in NYC, and contact Broadway actors to make sure their records are correct and up-to-date,” Bartolotta said of her internship at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.  “It will be a good opportunity to get a glimpse of how it will be living there after I graduate.  I hope to gain knowledge about the behind-the-scenes world of Broadway and be able to make contacts and network.”

What better place to network in theatre than New York City?

Most actors dream of having careers in New York City, so for these students to be able to experience acting in the nation’s, if not world’s, theatre capital through an internship is an incredible accomplishment, and they worked hard and endured challenging auditions to get there, Weller-Stilson said.

“I had to travel to New York to audition and interview with The Neighborhood Playhouse for the intensive study.  Hopefully I will improve as an actor through scene study, voice and movement,” Edwards said.

Fortunately for the students, Southeast has some important networking outlets itself.  Judith Farris, Southeast voice teacher, with her close relationship to the Lucille Lortel Theatre, assists in sending select students to intern with the theatre each summer.

“She works closely with the company and sends only a couple students a year to do an internship with the theatre,” Coffey said.

Weller-Stilson says the Southeast faculty and staff are very proud of the students because of their hard work to obtain these internships.

“They are also very brave.  It’s a big jump for them to go to New York City, and it’s not easy, but this will provide invaluable preparation for their careers after graduation,” Weller-Stilson said.