SIUE Theater Hits Broadway

Tim Eaker, Kristina Cirone, Johanna Beck, Jacob Dicus, Kelly Ward, Wes Robinson, Ryan Wiechmann, Andrew Pearson, Brad Dillon, Judy Gasser, and Lana Hagan backstage at Newsies on BroadwayLast May Lana Hagan from the SIUE department of theater and dance took a group of current students along with Friends of Theater and Dance Members (FOTAD) to visit New York City.

This trip was the continuation of a fourteen year tradition started by Hagan during her early years at SIUE. Hagan would frequently ask students what their plans were after graduation and many would say they were going to move to New York and attempt to get on Broadway. The trip was originally organized so that these students, many of whom and never been to New York, could get a feel for the city as well as see Broadway production values.

“I think some of them come home and say they can’t wait to go back,” Hagan explained, “Others have fond memories but learn they don’t want to move there.”

Students pay their own way on the trip, but receive benefits from group discounted rates. Over the years to help offset the cost of the trip FOTAD members as well as SIUE faculty have joined in on the trip. This not only made things cheaper for the students but also enriched the group dynamic.

“They really learned from each other, it became an inter-generational kind of experience,” explained Hagan.

While in the city the group typically sees five to six Broadway shows. The group also tries to tailor the experience to the individual students setting up day trips to various museums and tourist attractions in the city. Additionally the group always tries to connect with SIUE graduates working in the area.

“We have a lot of students out there,” Hagan explained, “When they can talk to people that are living there and working there they get an honest picture of what it’s like.”

This year they met up with Keith Shaw and Tim Eaker who were both working on the crew of “Newsies”. Shaw is currently employed by the production as a costume assistant while Eaker is a production stage manager.

Next years group promises to be even larger with Marc Shapman from the Department of Music putting together a group of music students to join as well.

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