As an artist-in-residence show produced using a professional cast, the September production of Romeo and Juliet was a first for Givens Performing Arts Center and University Theatre.
“We wanted to do something unique for our audience,” GPAC director James Bass said. “University Theatre director Jonathan Drahos and I brought our resources together to do something that would benefit our GPAC audience as well as our students.”
Professional actors from Los Angeles and New York starred in key roles, and they worked with University Theatre students to provide them with a professional experience filling secondary roles. For example, Lindsay Pearce, who played Juliet, had appeared in hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Glee as well as numerous film and stage productions.
Film and stage veteran Drahos directed the play; Stephanie Peters developed costumes; David Underwood oversaw props and support; and Eric Voeck designed the set, lighting, and projection.
Preparing for this performance of Romeo and Juliet was not very different than preparing for any show that she has designed for UNCP, Peters said. “I always aim for as professional a production as time and resources allow.”
Peters and Underwood were excited to see the collaboration between UNCP students and professional actors. “I think collaborations like this are an excellent opportunity for our students to see how professionals work and to start making contacts that can serve them well once they graduate,” he said.
The benefits to students are incredible, Peters said. “It allows us access to more front-of-house talent and publicity, which ultimately means we reach a bigger audience and are better financed,” she said. “Growing this collaboration could mean larger, more elaborate shows that allow for more student participation both on stage and behind the scenes and the ability to hire more professionals for them to work among and learn from.”