Three University of the Ozarks junior theatre students traveled east over the summer to gain invaluable experience working as internships at some of the country's top thespian venues.
Kady Holmes of Greenwood, Ark., Meghan Mansur of Little Rock, and Sandra Davis of Waco, Texas, all took part in professional theatre internships over the summer. Holmes worked at Lusty Lil’s Palace Theatre at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio; Mansur spent her summer break at the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre in Winchester, Va.; and Davis interned at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, N.Y.
Walton Professor of Theatre Bruce B. Brown said he encourages his students to seek internships in professional theatre because the experience helps students stand out from the crowd when looking for future employment or when applying to graduate programs in the discipline.
Theatre majors Meghan Mansur, Sandra Davis and Kady Holmes spent their summer working as interns at professional theatres in Virginia, New York, and Ohio, respectively.
"Internships make our students more marketable because they have had on-the-job training in at least one professional theatre company," Brown said. "And, often our students end up having at least two internships before they graduate. Working with professionals in the industry builds relationships that will help our majors with future opportunities in the theatre. It also broadens our current students’ education and training by keeping them abreast of the latest innovations in the field."
Holmes worked from May 17 to late July at the theatre located in one of the most popular amusement parks in the country. She worked on five to six 30-minute shows a day, six days a week, in the wardrobe and costume departments.
"It was a fast-paced, high energy experience," Holmes said of her internship. "The thing that I learned the most from it was how to be more efficient in that environment. The shows move so fast and you have to do everything not only fast, but efficiently."
Holmes said it was also good to get outside her comfort zone and work with other actors and crew members.
It was a little bit of a challenge but I learned to let my guard down a little and trust other people," she said. "We ended upcoming pretty close friends and we did a lot of things together outside work."
Mansur worked as a general technician six days a week from May 25 to August 3 at the Shenandoah Theatre in Virginia. Her duties ranged from building sets and props to painting and operating a spotlight. She worked on several productions, including "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "The Wiz," and "The Music Man."
"I had never worked in musical theatre before and I discovered that I loved it," Mansur said. "I also learned to work with different tools that I hadn’t worked much with before. Overall, it was a great experience."
Davis served as a general technician and carpenter for six productions at the Gateway Playhouse. She worked six days a week, from May 11 to Aug. 12, in the theatre’s scene shop and with the stage crew. Her duties included helping to move and load sets, creating sets and props, and operating spotlights. She also spent a lot of time welding on the sets, something that her Ozarks education prepared her for.
"We were taught the basics of welding at Ozarks and that really helped me," Davis said. "I was one of the youngest interns there, but my bosses were impressed with how much I knew. During the first week, I thought I would be way behind everyone but by the second week I felt very comfortable with everything."
Davis said one of the most valuable things she received from her experience was getting to know the actors and crew members from the theatre.
"I picked up some valuable skills and knowledge, but what I enjoyed the most was meeting so many people who are in the profession," Davis said. "I feel like those connections can only help me as I pursue a career in theatre."