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Nathan Scheetz in Theatre Cedar Rapids' "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"

October 2010


With the solid foundation of an Ambrose education, students and alumni find themselves experiencing the theatre world outside of the Theatre Department. Student Catie Osborn '10, and alumni Nathan Scheetz '10, Katie McCormack '10, and Ryan Westwood '09 recently shared their experiences.

Nathan Scheetz '10, who now resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has just finished a run of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at Theatre Cedar Rapids, playing spelling bee contestant Chip Tolentino. Before auditions, Scheetz felt very confident in his abilities, "but there really is a surprising amount of talent in Cedar Rapids ... which means there's gotta be a surprising amount of talent everywhere," he says.

The experience has been a fun one, but certainly a different experience for Scheetz. "There's a lot of loose direction," he says, "and it's hard not having someone like Dr. Johnson directing me." Scheetz's character is one of the most shocking/offensive in the show, which is one of the things Scheetz likes best about the production. "I like being the one reason you can't bring young kids to the show," he says smugly. Scheetz has also just been cast in the Theatre Cedar Rapids' original production, "These Days, or, the Fall from Grace," finding great success in this new city.

Catie Osborn '10
Catie Osborn '10, in a previous Prenzie Player production

Catie Osborn '10 auditioned for Prenzie Players' production of "Pericles" in late August, earning a role in the ensemble-based show. "There are nine actors, and between us we play all of the characters," says Osborn, who plays five or six characters herself, including a pirate, "Ya know, gyarr!"

The show is a much different experience than working on an SAU production. "It's a very collaborative work," Osborn says. Osborn has participated in one other Prenzie show, seen right. Aside from getting to play a pirate, Osborn loves working with her good friends and generally "cool people." The collaborative effort allows for the exploration of characters, and Osborn is "as worried as she is excited to put ideas together and come up with a product." The production runs November 12-21.

Katie McCormack '10 finished her first professional Stage Managing experience this August at the local Curtainbox Theatre. Stage management includes set-up, writing down blocking on each actor, and being the master of the schedule. McCormack admits she was nervous from the get-go, and that the nerves never really went away. "I was especially nervous to work with Phil Mckinley," she said, speaking of the very experienced director, who directed Hugh Jackman in "The Boy from Oz" on Broadway.

McCormack, right, embracing SAU alum Seth Kaltwasser '09, after a production of the Curtainbox Theatre's "W;t"

Once she started working, though, she realized McKinley was very accommodating. "He only made me cry once," McCormack said with a laugh, "and it really wasn't even his fault."

The show was very well-received, and her experience was wonderful. "The cast was simply amazing. Cory is a glorious person to work with," she said of her former professor. "Everyone in the show has spectacular talent, and they are all spectacular people," say McCormack. Regardless of the great experience, McCormack has decided to permanently resign from stage managing. "I want to go out with a bang!" she says.

Ryan Westwood '09 (below) is in the midst of an apprenticeship at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Ky., currently performing in the theatre's production of "Dracula." Westwood plays Norbert Briggs, the helping hand at an insane asylum. Being an apprentice, the experience of working with a seasoned director and veteran actors is very intimidating.

Ryan Westwood prepared for Dracula
Ryan Westwood '10 prepares to
go onstage for "Dracula"

"The hardest part about this production is realizing that I am enough, that I have a right to be here too," says Westwood, who struggled with this for the first two or three weeks of the rehearsal process.

The cast is planning to do "flashmobs" in order to advertise for the show, in which they suddenly dance and play blaring music in a public place, a very effective attention-getter.

The theatre performs matinees for students ranging from seventh grade to seniors in high school, and these are some of Westwood's favorite performances. "We bus the kids in, scare the crap out of them, make them scream, cry, sometimes run out of the theatre and vomit," he said proudly. But the best part of the experience for Westwood is watching the other actors from different backgrounds work with the director. "Some people work very organically, others not so much. Some work professionally, others not so much." Westwood says of the actors, "Craft-wise, it's very fulfilling to observe and learn."

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