Theatre and Dance Graduates

Meet Mariel Goffredi, '17 • Music Theatre


Memorable roles at CMU:
Luisa Contini in Nine

Evelyn in The Shape of Things
Gabriella in Boeing-Boeing

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

Right after college, I became a para-educator at an elementary school. I made sure the kids didn't eat yellow snow and had even teams when playing "Star Wars: Light Side vs. Dark Side." My first theatre production after graduating was with StageDoor Theatre as Christine Colgate in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It was a role I've always wanted to play, and was so fun. I also had a caroling job in December with The Original Dickens Carolers. I was filled with so much joy watching how our songs brought happiness to people in the holiday season.

Now, a year after graduating, my job is helping people to get electrical stimulation devices that their doctors have prescribed for them. The devices help them manage and treat any physical pain they are experiencing, usually after an injury or surgery. Including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I have been in four productions since graduating including as Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, as Agnes in Agnes of God and as Estelle in No Exit.

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

I am currently in rehearsal for The Kentucky Cycle with Vintage Theatre Productions. A typical night of rehearsal for this production includes blocking a scene with the director, running through the scene and then getting notes from the director on our acting choices. This play is an epic that is six hours long, broken into two parts. It’s a really lovely piece that follows a family throughout 200 years of generations, telling their stories of greed and heartbreak as they try to keep their land and home from being taken from them.  

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

The transition from acting at Mesa to acting elsewhere was strange but exciting. Instead of knowing everyone you are auditioning for, being in a familiar setting and having the lovely Doug to accompany you, everything is different. You know no one there, sometimes you've never been in the audition space, and a stranger is at the piano. But what else can you do but "stumble along”? It is also weird having to find auditions by yourself, instead of having them being posted around the building for you. The unknown is frightening! But the adrenaline keeps me going, and pushes me to do my best.

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

Our theatre professors have trained us very, very well. Mesa students know how to be prepared for auditions. Plus, we have to go to so many auditions during our college career that we kind of get used to them after awhile. The most beneficial thing I learned at Mesa 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.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

First, you've got to love this art. You have to find why YOU love theatre and keep that reason alive in your heart when things get tough. Second, when auditioning, you have to know the show you're auditioning for. Listen to the soundtrack and read the script. Say the lines out loud for the part you want. Directors can tell who has done their homework and who hasn't. And finally, GO FOR IT!!! There may be roles that you think you have no chance of getting, but you NEED to audition anyway. It gives you experience, if nothing else, and gives you connections to different directors and companies.

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!

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.