If you were among the hundreds of people who attended Broadway’s Bandstand on Monday night, you likely were highly entertained and impressed, but you missed something just as impressive happening where you couldn’t see it.
I’m talking about backstage, where dozens of PSU students were getting an education way beyond the classroom.
As part of my job, I had the chance to be present at load-in, which started at 7:30 a.m., and then periodically throughout the day as the wardrobe was unpacked, set built, technical elements fitted, and so on. What I was focused most on were the PSU students and what they were learning.
Pittsburg State students Miranda Madden (Communications/Theatre) and Hannah Casper (Media Production/Spanish) told me they were having an incredible experience on the wardrobe crew.
As graduates of Pittsburg High School’s award-winning Theatre program that performed at the State and International Thespian Festivals, they were ideal volunteers because they were familiar with taking a show on the road. But being part of “Bandstand” provided a new learning opportunity they said was invaluable.
“I actually got to be Donny Novitski’s dresser! I was in charge of making sure the leading man was dressed correctly and changed costumes at the right times!” Miranda said. “I learned so much — like how to follow a ‘track’ which is what tells you what you need to do and when. After having these amazing experiences at Pitt State with Broadway shows, I can really tell that tech theater is what I want to do after college!”
Shawna Witherspoon and Natalie Golden also put in a long day, not getting done until the late, late hours that night, but felt it was worth it.
Natalie, a senior majoring in Biology at PSU, was The Official Clipboard Person for “Bandstand” — the seventh Broadway show she’s worked for the Bicknell during her time at PSU — and as such, ensured all crews were doing what they needed to, when they needed to. She dreams of one day becoming a Physician Assistant.
"Although I’m not in an arts-related major, it’s been a valuable experience. Working here helps you no matter what your field,” she said. “It’s all people skills.”
Shawna, her supervisor and mentor, is the Bicknell Center’s Technical & Client Services Coordinator. She’s also a graduate student in the PSU Art Department.
“This building is a training ground for students in all kinds of degree programs,” Shawna said. “It’s amazing what a person can learn and experience here.”
For Kansas City senior DeMarcus LaMond Edwards, a management and marketing major, being involved with the show was a chance to serve the university while representing his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. He and other fraternity members helped to load in huge crates full of the pieces and parts that would become the show just a few hours later.
On Nov. 14, DeMarcus and his Alpha Phi Alpha brothers will take their turn in the spotlight when they perform on stage at 6 p.m. in the Dotty and Bill Miller Theatre inside the Bicknell Center in Stomp-A-Palooza — a step competition.
Fraternity members have coached sorority members from the Alpha Sigma Alpha and Sigma Sigma Sigma sororities to compete in the step competition.
The group will donate $200 plus 5 percent of ticket sales to the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, founded by sorority members of all chapters with a mission to provide girls and women an equal chance to have productive livelihoods through schooling, the learning of a trade, or even a college degree.
This event is open to the public; tickets are $3 in advance or $6 at the door.
Also coming up:
The Pittsburg State University jazz ensemble, jazz combo, and the Southeast Kansas Honors Jazz Ensemble will present a free concert at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall.
The concert will include jazz standards as well as new works, conducted by Robert Kehle. The guest conductor for the SEK Honors Jazz Ensemble, comprised of the best high school jazz musicians in our area picked through an audition process, will be Lisa Hittle, professor emeritus at Friends University and an alumnus of the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
The concert is free and open to the public.
— Andra Bryan Stefanoni is a lifelong Pittsburg resident and arts enthusiast. She is the director of media relations at Pittsburg State University. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org