The final production I performed in as an IPFW theater major was The Yellow Boat. Presented in the Studio Theatre, that production was also my first appearance in a full-length show in the department’s flexible black box. There were other Studio Theatre experiences while I was a student: organization fundraisers, class work, final projects, directing scenes and a one-act proposal called Tape. If find it remarkable that The Fantasticks should return me to the very place that I completed my IPFW actor training.
Coming back for this show has reaffirmed my pride in this theater department and its teaching methods. Achieving accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Theatre proves the value of this program. We develop tools here that inform companies of our marketable abilities. I’ve worked professionally, not only as an actor, but also in costume shops, scene shops, lighting assignments, run crews and fly rails. Companies have employed me for my properties mastery, drama teaching and stage management. The versatility students acquire here can serve them in the professional world – if they take advantage of those opportunities during their IPFW education.
Students’ talents here are augmented by the incredible faculty and staff. From the first day of rehearsal, every individual was prepared, focused and excited about the work. I first had the pleasure of getting to know Riley Lorenzini (The Girl) this summer in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, also directed by Craig Humphrey. Her talent was apparent from our initial scenes, but every rehearsal she became more confident, allowing direction, notes and work outside of rehearsal to compel the growth of her character. Halee Bandt is outstanding as the production’s Fight Director. Incoming student Josh Ogle (The Man Who Dies) didn’t miss a beat in joining the energy, fun, and concentration of the group. Brady Shrock (The Narrator), Austin Young (The Boy), Brock Ireland (The Girl’s Father) and Brooke O’Hara (The Mute) all have positively influenced me throughout the process. Everyone brought their best qualities to the table, allowing our director to easily shape the rehearsals into something quite tremendous.
It’s pleasure, after almost five years, to be part of another Studio production and share professional skills and experiences with the next generation of IPFW theater students. Out of over a hundred roles, The Fantasticks is one of my favorite experiences. I hope you like it, too. “Remember me, in light!”
IPFW alum Aaron Mann plays The Actor in this production of The Fantasticks.