Theatre and Dance Graduates

Meet Jenna Wadleigh, '17 • Dance and Theatre Design/Technology

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Current Position:
Production Stage Manager, University of Utah School of Dance

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I oversee all School of Dance performances; organizing logistics during pre-production and managing the student performers and crew backstage during shows. My role is to ensure the safety and success of the performance for all involved. I am a part of enforcing show schedules and rules, and I work closely with the production team to fulfill the needs of the faculty choreographers and the student dancers.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

During my time in undergrad, I had many opportunities to manage shows and work with a variety of people. This gave me the chance to foster my organizational and interpersonal skills, as well as broaden my knowledge through experience. This allowed me to explore my interests in performance management/technical theatre and dance in tandem with each other due to the close relationship of those departments.

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

After graduating from college, I expected the transition would be a struggle, but that doesn't mean it was very easy! However, I was actively making connections with peers and other professionals while still in college, and I gained some tricks to the trade before I began seeking a job. In this field, your connections and good relationships with other professionals is important to your hire-ability. So I had some security in my career while I worked out how to transition my personal life.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicant for your current position?

My recommendations, my particular skill sets pertaining to both management and dance, and my well-rounded resume. As a dancer and artist myself, I have a strong understanding of calling dance performances and working with fellow dancers and choreographers. I was able to speak the language of the production team and creative team during my interview and was a relatable choice to be a member of staff. Most importantly, however, it came down to my work ethic and ability to grow. During my studies, I made the decision to push myself and to say yes to any job offered or volunteer opportunity that was presented. It was hard to juggle everything at the time, but this also gave me a wealth of experiences to draw from, and the ability to adapt and handle multiple situations. In my experience, being extremely adaptable is how you get ahead.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

The advice I give is the same I wish I would have gotten when I started, which is don't be afraid to ask for help. Otherwise, I would say to sign up for those 8ams, get an internship and study abroad! Don't take those opportunities for granted, and go and make the best out of your journey. Lastly, make sure you build and keep your bridges and treasure your friends!

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!

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Mariel Goffredi, '17 • Music Theatre

Mariel’s first theatre production after graduating was with StageDoor Theatre as Christine Colgate in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. She went on to be in productions such as The Diary of Anne Frank as Margot Frank, in Agnes of God as Agnes and in The Kentucky Cycle with Vintage Theatre Productions. The most beneficial thing she learned at CMU is “In this business, you're going to get 99 ‘No’s’ before one ‘Yes.’ When I started auditioning in Denver at the end of my senior year, all I was getting were ‘Nos.’ But I remembered that I was just crossing off my Nos, and was getting closer to my Yeses. So I started just auditioning for EVERYTHING I could get my hands on. And after many auditions and callbacks, I have finally gotten my Yeses.”

Kortni Stillwagon

Kortni Stillwagon, '16 • Music Theatre

After graduation, Kortni performed in Breckenridge in Backstage Theatre's production of Hairspray as Shelley, one of the "nice kids." She then went on to work for Viking Ocean Cruises in the production cast. When working on Viking, her day usually consisted of exploring at different ports, socializing with guests, an hour or so of rehearsal, a 45-minute show and any odd performances or jobs.

The most beneficial thing she 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."

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.