Pioneer Theatre interns jump-start acting careers

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

A group of seniors in the U’s Actor Training Program have gotten an early spot in the limelight.

Stefanie Londino, Logan Black, Lauren Bradley, Aaron Spencer and Brandon Tessers, all interns at Pioneer Theatre Company, have rehearsed and performed in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Dial “M’ for Murder” at PTC. The interns have had small roles and work as understudies in both plays, which are rehearsed for three weeks and then run for three weeks.

“It’s the first big step to our professional career,” Black said.

PTC is an equity-only playhouse, meaning that only equity member actors can be in the plays at the theater. Actors, in general, focus on improving their résumés after graduating from college on a local level and then break into small roles at equity playhouses to gain membership in the Actors’ Equity Association, a union for actors and stage managers.

Actors generally move to Chicago, Los Angeles or New York to start their acting careers, Londino said.

Spencer will start in Chicago but plans to move to New York after he becomes an equity member.

“It’s difficult to jump right into New York without being an equity member,” Spencer said. “To become a member you have to work in an equity theater8212;it’s tough to do.”

Black, Spencer and Tessers will be moving to Chicago at the end of the summer to start promoting themselves for roles in local theaters. Black hopes to break into the equity theaters in Chicago within the next two to three years.

The ATP is structured so students are finished with all the classes for their theater major by the fall of their senior year. This makes the actors available to do an internship during Spring Semester.

Having the opportunity for an internship in an equity playhouse before graduation gives the interns an edge when applying to work in a professional setting, Spencer said.

Londino grew up in New Jersey and discovered her love for Broadway from living close to New York City. Singing and dancing come first for Londino, so she is pursuing a mixed career. She said it’s important for actors now to be able to do musical theater and plays, and still be able to cross over into television and film, she said.

The U’s theater program is still not well known, but it’s one of the best, Londino said.

A showcase featuring PTC interns and other senior actors will be held in New York on April 21.

Some of the equity actors from the “Romeo and Juliet” and “Dial “M’ for Murder” casts will be attending the showcase, Londino said.

“The actors who we have been working with have been wonderful,” she said. “We’re forming contacts to use in the professional world.”

The showcase won’t guarantee any of the actors a job, but it will help, Londino said. Agents and industry professionals have a short attention span, so each actor must be sharp and showcase their best selves in five minutes.

It will cost approximately $15,000 for the 11 actors to travel to New York. A grant from the College of Fine Arts covers $5,000 of the cost, but they need to raise more to cover the rest.

The showcase will be performed on April 5 for free at the Salt Lake Acting Company to give the actors involved a chance to perform in front of an audience and determine how audiences will react to different parts of the performance. The showcase is an hour long. All of the interns, except Bradley, are going to New York with seven other seniors in theater. Showcases include drama, comedy and musical scenes.

A suggested $25 donation will be accepted at the showcase, Black said.

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