From casting and costumes, media, promotion, to practicing lines and acting on stage, our theatre program offers gives students the chance to really find their niche in theatre. What makes the experience even more valuable, however, is the International Thespian Society’s annual summer trip to New York, where time spent behind the curtain at some of the city’s top-tier productions gives them the opportunity to connect what they’ve learned to what they could become.
Along with watching the shows – including the renowned Phantom of the Opera and NYC’s latest hit Beetlejuice – a range of workshops offered by Broadway Classroom immerses the students in everything from vocal training to costume changes. Chatting with actors, picking up tips, listening to advice, and getting time to ask questions is also part of the process.
“The workshops and shows gave me the chance to see that doing theatre, just like any other occupation, is a lot of work,” Payton Prewitt ’20 said. “A lot of people dismiss it as a hobby, but it’s not. It’s a craft that requires your complete dedication.”
Payton fell in love with Phantom, a show that he said was built “on the details.”
“Making something as grand and rich as this production meant getting everything just about perfect,” he observed. “The vocal training took months, and something as simple as a curtain had multiple layers. That kind of effort is really something that you notice, and I hope we can offer more of a glimpse into that world in our own productions. We should want our details – even if it’s the smallest prop – to show.”
Payton’s favorite moment was participating in a quick change costume workshop where he saw one actress jump out of a powered wig and ball gown and into a night robe in less than 90 seconds.
“It was really an eye-opener for me,” he said. “We learned that all of these actors and actresses they have independent jobs and full lives. Broadway doesn’t pay much, but they do it – they do all it – for the love of it, and sitting backstage, watching costumes changes, lights change, and sets move in the blink of an eye, that message really resonated with me.”
For Payton’s sister Aynsley '21, the quick change workshop also highlighted another life lesson: the importance of working as a team.
“When you’ve got literally a minute to get into character, you have to learn how to trust other people as well,” she said. “There’s no time to feel like you want to be in control – you have rely on your cast, your team, to get you through, and that’s really true of anything.”
With time spent both behind the scenes in set design and on the stage as an actor – Aynsley played Sebastian the Crab in Antilles’ musical The Little Mermaid – Aynsley said she was excited to take in everything she could.
“What was most important, though, was hearing what each actor’s process is,” she shared. “Sometimes even if you audition and audition, you might not get the role you want, but that is all part of the process. Just hearing that make my heart for theatre grow even more, because it’s really what I want to do and I have to be all in.”
The trip also gave students the chance to connect with other ITS alumni – Mansi Totwani ’18, Nathan Luce ’17, and Nia Gumbs ’16 – in the area.