When I was in high school I came up with the brilliant idea of double majoring in Middle Level Education and Theater.
When searching for schools, I wanted to find a school which had a lot of theater opportunities. On Gannon’s website, it said that there were a ton of theater opportunities in the Erie area. I was instantly hooked. While many of the theater opportunities happen at the Schuster Theater, there are also many community theater opportunities in the Erie area as well.
Two of the first shows I saw in the Erie area as a Gannon student was “MacBeth” at All an Act Theater, and “Spamalot” at the Erie Playhouse. MacBeth featured a few Gannon students I met at the Schuster Theater on campus. “Spamalot” featured theater professor Fr. Shawn Clerkin as King Arthur. Throughout my time at Gannon, I have also seen “The Rocky Horror Show” at PACA and many shows at Dramashop including “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”, “Third”, and “Seminar.”
The Erie Playhouse’s “Spamalot” blew me away. First of all, it is a musical version of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” which is one of my favorite movies. Second of all, it was filled with an absolutely hilarious and talented cast. I wanted to perform along side the actors in that production.
Community theater is a big part of the Erie arts scene, and during the second semester of my Freshman year, Fr. Shawn Clerkin was directing “The Music Man” in concert with The Erie Chamber Orchestra. I figured this was the time for me to participate in my first Erie community theater production. I was a traveling salesman and Constable Locke. They weren’t huge parts, but I had the chance to be part of a musical theater classic with many of Erie’s most talented performers and Playhouse veterans [including Kate Amatuzzo and Patrick Thiem who were both in “Spamalot.”]
I saw more shows at The Erie Playhouse and Dramashop. In the Scene Technology class I took during the first semester of my sophomore year, Erie Playhouse’s Almi Clerkin gave a presentation about being a theater executive director. In the next semester, professor Jax Vadney said that it looks good on a theater resume to participate in shows with multiple theater companies, not just the Schuster Theater. I new that at one point I was going to involve myself in Erie Community Theater once again.
During an APO meeting, I learned that they needed more guys for the Erie Playhouse’s production of “Scrooge.” This was something I had to do. I instantly volunteered and got to be involved in the ensemble of this production. I even got to share the stage with many of the Erie Playhouse veterans who once wowed me as an audience member. “Scrooge” was a really great production to be involved in.
There are a multitude of theater opportunities for a Gannon student interested in theater in the Erie area. There are performance and behind-the-scenes opportunities to get involved! I am really glad I got to have these theater experiences.