Musical Theatre Students Spend Summer Performing for Music Theatre Wichita Thursday, August 25, 2016
(L-R) Jared Roberts and Jacob Wasson
Point Park University musical theatre majors Jacob Wasson and Jared Roberts spent the summer of 2016 in Wichita, Kan. as resident ensemble members for Music Theatre Wichita. Wasson performed in Oklahoma! and Jesus Christ Superstar, and Roberts was cast in Beauty and the Beast, Oklahoma!, Mamma Mia! and Jesus Christ Superstar, where he also played the role of Caiaphas. Below, the students share more about their experiences at Music Theatre Wichita and Point Park.
-- Wayne Bryan, producing artistic director at MTW
"I was searching for a true triple threat program. A lot of musical theatre programs push one aspect of the pie aside, but Point Park stood out to me as a place where singing, acting and dancing were all held to a high standard."
-- Jacob Wasson
How were you selected to perform with Music Theatre Wichita?
I flew to Wichita to audition during spring break last March. I went to the dance call first, which consisted of a movement call and a more intense dance call. Next, I performed the singing portion of the audition, where I read specific scenes for the role of Caiaphas. After every city that auditions, they post a list of their top candidates for the resident ensemble and week-by-week they narrow it down to a select group. I found out in May that I was selected for the ensemble in several shows, as well as the role of Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar. - Jared Roberts, a senior from Bedford, N.H. who is pursuing a B.F.A. in musical theatre
How have your classes prepared you for this experience?
The most important thing my Point Park experience has taught me, that has helped with being in the ensemble and playing Caiaphas, is to remain truthful. As Caiaphas, the two hardest parts were dealing with his evil objectives and the age difference (I'm 21 and played someone in their 60's). His truth is that he believed Jesus was a threat to his title and institution, and it's easy to write him off as an actor by playing evil. But he, like all of us, was a real human being with desires and wants. It's how he goes about to get what he wants that makes him evil, not that he was inherently bad.
In addition, another thing that I learned that helped me to play an older authority figure was unmotivated and motivated movements. As people grow up they become more set in there bodies, they tend not to make as fast or sudden movements that younger people would. On top of that, Caiaphas is the high priest who held great power and influence in his temple and among the people. So, each time I walked to a new spot on stage, looked a person in the eyes, held a hand up, etc., it was for a very specific reason. By remaining deliberate and grounded, it made the age difference believable and gave me a more threatening aura. - JR
What was it like living and working in Kansas?
Honestly, it was a wonderful experience. A lot of people hear Wichita and might question why one would want to work in Kansas, but it's such a nice place to live (especially for the summer). Wayne Bryan, producing artistic director, made sure everyone was comfortable and fed. We joked around that we would gain 15 pounds because the guild snack table was always full, and dinner parties happened more often than not! The theatre is gorgeous and the technical staff is always on their game. We had fun and made sure the work was at its best. - JR
What factors led you to pursue your undergraduate degree at Point Park?
I was searching for a true triple threat program. A lot of musical theatre programs push one aspect of the pie aside, but Point Park stood out to me as a place where singing, acting and dancing were all held to a high standard. - Jacob Wasson, a sophomore from Wichita, Kan. who is pursuing a B.F.A. in musical theatre
How will you incorporate what you've learned to your upcoming year at Point Park?
The biggest thing I've learned while working here is confidence in myself, which is something most performance students struggle with. MTW is unique in that it hires college students from across the country for its ensemble, but brings in professional Broadway actors, choreographers, directors, etc. As Wayne Bryan tells everyone who auditions (more than 1,000 every year), each season and cast of guest stars and artists is secretly for the benefit of the resident ensemble. The professionalism and talent I've seen here in Wichita is the same professionalism and talent one sees in New York.
At school, you get so used to being in a secluded class that the working world of theatre seems so distant and unattainable. Working alongside Broadway veterans and award-winning directors and choreographers on such a familiar level makes the college bubble we live in seem much closer to the professional actor bubble we are all striving to get into once we graduate. I can return to Point Park knowing a career as an actor seems impossible, but I'm friends with dozens of people now who prove it's not. - JW
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I grew up at MTW. I started as a member of the rainbow choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when I was seven years old, using Home on the Range as an audition song nonetheless, and then returning in some fashion every summer since. I have grown up idolizing the members of the resident ensemble and to officially become one of them is a dream come true. It's very rare that someone from Wichita gets the chance to grow out of being a teenager in the background, so I am taking nothing for granted. - JW