Our Graduates

Meet Kortni Stillwagon, '16 • Music Theatre

Kortni Stillwagon

Memorable roles at CMU:
Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

Jenny in The Shape of Things
Carla Albanese in Nine

What was your first project or job after Mesa? What are some jobs or projects that you have worked on since?

September of 2016 I performed in Breckenridge in Backstage Theatre's production of Hairspray as Shelley, one of the "nice kids." Recently, I have been working on Viking Ocean Cruises in the production cast.

In your current role, what do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I am currently on vacation, but when I worked on Viking, my day usually consisted of exploring out at different ports with my friends, socializing with guests, an hour or so of rehearsal, a 45-minute show and any odd performances or jobs that were thrown my way throughout the cruise. We had opportunities to perform our own atrium concerts on sea days and we also had different gatherings that we would socialize and sing for as well.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career?

As a student, there was always something pushing us to do our work and create all the time. In the real world, you have to be focused enough to do it on your own without anyone telling you to do it. Motivation can be hard to find when nobody is grading you anymore and when you can go out and explore Europe or the Caribbean instead of working. I've been working hard since I graduated to create new things and continue training and improving every day.

What has been the most beneficial thing you learned at Mesa — inside or outside the classroom?

The most beneficial thing I learned at Mesa was to work hard and let life happen. As an actor, I only have so much control over what jobs I get, so I work my hardest to show them what I can do and then I have to let go of control and be okay with whatever happens. I was always trying insanely hard to be perfect at everything when I was in school, and I would never accept failure until I learned that the best way to improve is through failure. If we try and control everything and make ourselves crazy by beating ourselves up over this idea of perfection, we will never love anything we create. And love is what art is all about.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Theatre isn't about being famous or getting every single job you audition for. It's about loving yourself and knowing your worth no matter what. Sometimes we go months without a job, but that doesn't mean we aren't talented or we did something wrong. It just means we have to march into the next room and do even better. It's about creating something new and influencing others with our art. No matter what you choose to do with your life, as long as you work hard every day and you constantly fight to get better and better and you do it because you can't live without it and you can't imagine yourself doing anything else- then you are in the right field.

CMU Theatre and Dance Alumni have worked… 

Delfos Danza Contemporanea Dance Company, Cirque du Soleil, Circle on the Square on Broadway, Cleo Parker Robinson, Disneyland, Ririe Woodbury Dance, Missoula Children's Theatre, Lincoln Center, Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, The Wild Party Original Cast, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Bates Dance Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, American Dance Festival, Universal Studios, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Morningstar Entertainment, Saratoga Shakespeare Company, Carnival Cruise Lines, Manhattan Children's Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Open Circle Theater, Denver Center Theatre Company, Central City Opera, Zikr Dance Ensemble, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, APEX Dance, Telluride Playwright's Festival, Paper Mill Playhouse, NBC Productions

…and many more!

Susan Haldeman

Susan Haldeman, '95 • Music Theatre

Susan’s first professional job was in a melodrama in Cripple Creek just before graduation. She then went on to a national tour of Pippi Longstocking as Mrs. Prysillius. In 2000-01 she did a national tour of Phantom and has worked regionally all over the US and Canada. After living in New York for about 4 years, she moved to Florida and joined Actors' Equity Association. She has worked ever since as not only an actress, but as a stage manager, wig designer, props designer, company manager and operations manager. She currently works at freeFall Theatre, an SPT-8 Equity theatre in St Petersburg, Florida as their Company/Operations Manager. She owns a home with her wife, Sheryl, and her 2 corgis, Boston terrier and 2 cats. During her time at Mesa, Susan learned the importance of training.

“I also learned to be strong enough for this business. I was pretty fearless at Mesa, and I like to think I’ve carried a bit of that along with me.”

Mot Xayabath

Mot Xayabath, '16 • Dance

"Working at Disney has been magical! I've met so many talent people (dancers, singers, actors, puppeteers, costumers, etc). I've made friends that are the funniest and kindest people. I've even met friends of friends from CMU! Working with Disney, you can tell that people want to be at Disney and performing, because every time that the performers set out of the gates, they put their hearts on stage. It's been a fun and wonderful experience. In the winter, I'll be a part of A Christmas Fantasy Parade. I'm so excited for what's to come!"

Jenna Webster

Jenna Webster, '15 • Design/Technology, Dance Minor

Jenna Webster is a prime example of how the hands on experience CMU provides its students affords them a competitive advantage in acquiring professional work right out of school. While at CMU, she designed the lighting for multiple shows and became the resident expert in lighting for dance by designing for three dance concerts. In her spare time, she worked professionally by designing lights for the Grand Junction Rockestra.

After graduation, she began working as a stagehand for the PACE Center in Parker, CO, working shows ranging from theatrical productions to dance concerts to national touring shows. She also continued to work in the dance field by designing and stage managing for David Taylor’s Zikr Dance Ensemble and for APEX Dance. She has since moved up the ladder at PACE, having been promoted to Master Electrician.

Lee Borden

Lee Borden, '85 • Theatre

Lee Borden is a familiar face in the Grand Valley, having performed in over 260 productions over the years. While working at The Cabaret Dinner Theatre, he had the opportunity to perform in dozens of shows and be on stage thousands of times. One of his favorite acting experiences was being in Beauty and the Beast for close to 150 performances, during which he played the role of Lumiere opposite Cogsworth, performed by CMU’s own Jeremy R. Franklin. Playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof was also a memorable Cabaret role, a role which he has performed in four different productions over the years. 

Lee is currently Executive Director for the Western Colorado Center for the Arts.