Theatre Aspen Blog

TAAP Class 2016: Jessica James, Education Apprentice

August 1, 2016

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As I sit down to write this, all I can think is “Wow… there are only 3 weeks left here.” This summer is flying by; it feels like yesterday I was flying into Aspen and had the whole summer ahead of me.  I was so excited to spend time in a place where mountains, hiking, and nature reign supreme. The mountains were a bit of a shock for this Oklahoma girl, but I have loved walking out and seeing them every morning. The one thing Aspen is missing is a Chick Fil A. If Aspen had that, it would be perfect.

My apprenticeship is in Theatre Aspen School with Director of Education Graham Northrup and TAS Education Associate Allison Lloyd, and it has honestly been one of the best summers of my life. The work is exhausting and sometimes days are long, but it has been the most rewarding work I have done in my career thus far. I have gotten to do everything from teaching 5-7 year olds to assistant directing the Summer Conservatory’s production of James and the Giant Peach, to learning how to make a playbill. My job has been a great mix of observing different teachers’ teaching styles, actually getting to teach myself, and administrative duties. I have learned so much already and there are still 3 weeks left!

I came into this summer not really sure where I wanted to end up in the world of theatre. I recently graduated with a degree in musical theatre, but honestly, I was not sure what I wanted to do. I knew I had an interest in teaching and maybe running a theatre education program, but after this summer I can confidently say that that interest has turned into a full on passion! There is nothing else like watching a kid get truly excited about theatre; it gives me goosebumps just to think about it! I am so in love with what I get to wake up and do every morning, and each of the kids I get to work with make me smile every single day. Also, Allison and Graham have been amazing mentors and I have grown so much as a theatre educator in the past two months! Team TAS (as I like to call us) is a pretty cool group to work with!  

When I’m not teaching, I can be found wandering downtown playing Pokémon Go (I know, I’m a tad embarrassed that I joined the trend), tasting all the amazing Colorado beers (I don’t ever want to drink anything but O’Dell’s anymore), attending Thursday concerts in Snowmass (the amount of fun and free things to do around Aspen still astounds me), and road tripping to Denver and Grand Junction to get Chick Fil A (What can I say? It’s an addiction). Oh, and one of the weirdest things I have done while in Aspen was participate in Square Grouper's 4th of July hot dog eating contest. That was an adventure for sure. After that hot dogs are officially banned from my diet, but it makes for a great story! 

As we reach the end of the summer we are gearing up for our Apprentice Showcase on August 14th! We are starting rehearsals next week and I am so excited! All of us apprentices have been scattered throughout different departments since we got here, and I am so excited to finally come together to put on this amazing show! If you are here on August 14th, you won’t want to miss it. 

TAAP Class 2016: Kyle Weiler, Performance Apprentice

July 12, 2016

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I knew nothing about Theatre Aspen before coming here this summer, but when I auditioned, I had a feeling that it would be an incredible experience. So far, it HAS been incredible. I’ve been here a month now, and I can’t comprehend how many glorious, joy filled days I have lived and how many inspirational people I have met. Coming off of four years in crazy NYC, Aspen’s beauty, tranquility, and spirit has been such a gift. It has given me a space to reflect, learn, and grow in ways that would be impossible in any other location. Funnily enough, being here has helped me shed a lot of layers. The environment has somehow forced me to face the misconceptions I have about myself, and let go of what is no longer serving me. I think it’s the magic of the mountains.

Here's a recap of my summer so far. 

We rehearsed Mamma Mia! for three two weeks before heading into the theatre. I have never performed on a thrust stage before, but had a wonderful time learning from our passionate director, Mark Martino, how to stage a big musical in such a challenging, intimate space. Now every night, whether I am onstage dancing in a wetsuit and flippers or backstage singing backups for another number, I feel like I am performing a rock concert every night with my best friends. The cast is incredible and it is an honor to work, laugh, play, (make fun of... sometimes) them all.

Currently we are rehearsing Dear Edwina, the children’s show this season. I play a ten-year old "want-a-be skater dude" along with several other wildly imaginative and eccentric characters: a monster, the leader of Jamaican boy band, a pig, and much more. We open next week! I am also working on the material for Buyer and Cellar as an understudy, and am choreographing for Theatre Aspen School's Teen Conservatory production of James and the Giant Peach. I always love having my hand in many different projects so it has been very exciting so far.

Outside of rehearsals my days have consisted of: hiking (Ajax is hard y'all!), yoga, biking, eating amazing foods (the donut cart left me speechless!), celebrating birthdays (so many 21st birthdays this summer!), and enjoying time with my new friends. Oh, life could be so much worse! I am incredibly grateful to be here.

Looking ahead, we are starting to plan for our apprentice showcase coming at the end of August. We have all kinds of ideas right now, so who knows what the finished product will look like. Regardless, my fellow apprentices are the most amazing people, and if you’re in town August 14th,  you don’t want to miss the show!

Much love!

Performance Apprentice 2016


TAAP Class 2016: Cass Ball, Music Direction Apprentice

July 8, 2016

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I’ve been in Aspen for a little over a month, and every time I go outside I still think the mountains are a green screen! It feels surreal to be writing this blog post – I remember reading the past blog posts half a year ago while applying. This summer has been turning out to be the most fun, busy, and rewarding summer of my life.  So far we have opened Mamma Mia!, started rehearsing the other two shows (Dear Edwina and Buyer and Cellar), and started planning the Apprentice Showcase. I have been consistently impressed with the amount of love and respect in this theatre community. Everyone, no matter their job or age or experience, helps out when there’s something to be done. As an apprentice, I am held to the same standards as the professionals in the business, which can definitely be scary, but everyone here is also rooting for you and will teach you how to work at those standards.

My apprenticeship in music directing has been a healthy mix of working on the music firsthand and observing the music directors. Music directing is a multifaceted job (accompanying rehearsals on piano, playing in the pit, rehearsing vocalists, coordinating all of the music during tech and performances, etc.) and I am getting the chance to work on all of these skills. When there are two rehearsal rooms going on simultaneously, I usually accompany the staging/choreography rehearsal on piano. I have also gotten to work with the performers on their vocal music. Being in the rehearsal room has been a great experience. Even when I’m mostly observing and acting as a second set of ears for the music director, it is such a joy to watch how different directors (both stage and music directors) work. I know that the only way to become a better music director is to watch other directors, and I know that I will take their insight with me as I move forward in this career. At the end of the summer I will be helping out with the Aspen Theatre Festival’s performance of a new work, The Museum of Broken Relationships (book and lyrics by David Bell, music by Daniel Green). I am so thankful for all of the opportunities the Theatre Aspen team has found for me!

When I’m not working I have been hiking, checking out different restaurants and bars, fitting ten friends into my room to watch horror movies, finding the best mocha in town, stargazing, and even white water rafting (something that I was scared to do before coming here – similarly, I’ve found that this is the safest, most rewarding place to lean into fear). I had never been to anywhere like Aspen before and it is bringing out the explorer in me!

Working alongside the highest caliber actors, tech crews, and production staff makes me feel confident going into my senior year of college and the rest of my life.  I’m so excited to see what the rest of the summer brings, although I don’t want to imagine it ending!

TAAP Class 2015: Six months into the ‘real world’ by Kelsey Schergen

April 6, 2016

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Michael Kostroff’s (The Cottage, 2014) workshop Audition Psych 101.  As a former apprentice, Paige [Price, Executive Artistic Director] and David [Gram, Apprentice Coordinator] offered this workshop to anyone that might be interested [from Theatre Aspen's prior apprentice classes].  I had heard good things about the workshop and decided to attend.  

Having been out “in the real world” for 6 months now, I have begun to explore the NYC audition scene and all of the drama (pun intended) that entails.  I have found that nerves and the psychological game in the holding room are the worst parts of auditioning--rather than the audition itself.  Michael helped us to break apart the psychological aspects of auditioning and suggested ideas for how to combat the emotional roller coaster called the audition process.  Using Michael's ideas, I hope to channel my nervous energy in a productive way and, dare I say, begin to enjoy auditioning.  

I'm so grateful to be considered part of the TA family.  The apprenticeship doesn’t end when you leave Aspen in August.  It’s extremely comforting to have a network of people I can reach out to as I begin to tackle this crazy business.  Thank you to Paige, David, and the apprentice program for creating such wonderful opportunities for young performers.  

TAAP Class 2015: John Millerd, Sound Design Apprentice

August 24, 2015

As the summer draws to a close and the curtain descends on the myriad of productions staged at Theatre Aspen, I can’t help but marvel at the amazing volume of work and happiness this summer has presented me with. The late hours changing over sets. The frigid early mornings loading in four productions into a tent. The rushed meals between multiple show days. The times spent enjoying Aspen's many amenities and amazing scenery. The amazing people I have gotten to work and live with. Everything about this summer has pushed me to new levels of talent and fortitude, while reminding me what truly matters in my life.


I had no illusions about the amount of work that would be required of me as an apprentice at a repertory summer stock theatre company. I came in prepared to work hard, but I’m not sure I was expecting the level of responsibility and opportunity I was given here at Theatre Aspen. From managing nearly two dozen wireless microphones, to waiting backstage before each show to tape the mics onto actors necks, I always felt like I was being given the utmost respect while working here. My supervisors and co-workers (and later friends) constantly challenged me to produce better work, and made sure that I was always given the knowledge and skills to do so. Asking questions seems to have been a theme this summer; it wasn’t so much a lack of knowledge as much as it was making sure I could learn as much as I could from the amazingly talented people working around me.


Speaking of those amazing people, I have been blown away by the selfless attitude, care, compassion, and most of all sense of humor, of everyone involved with Theatre Aspen. From my fellow apprentices to the highest level directors, everyone has shown nothing but kindness and support, despite my worst puns. It seems cliché and silly to say I can’t decide whether I’ll miss the theatre or people more here at Theatre Aspen, however, I know this summer will be an amazing memory I will always cherish. I think it can be summed no better than with a musing I had on the way to call that was way too early in the morning for my liking: “I am going to work with my friends, and I can’t ask for anything more than that.”


-John Millerd

TAAP Class 2015: Spencer Hansen, Performance Apprentice

August 24, 2015

 I can easily say I have never worked so hard, been so tired, had so much fun, loved so many people, and been a part of so many fantastic productions all in one summer before. The people here are not only talented and ridiculously professional, but I can honestly say that every single person here is kind and genuinely puts other people before themselves. There are few places in the world where so many amazing artists get together to create amazing work together as a family of sorts. As an apprentice, I was treated as a complete equal to every other performer by everyone else in the cast and quite often people would come up to me and say how much they enjoyed something I did, or something the apprentices did as a group. These are working veteran actors who say these things. I am a college student who is just exploring one of my first experiences doing real summer stock theatre. It blows my mind that this theatre can bring together so many actors who have so much love and support to give to everyone regardless of skill, talent, or experience. Being in Aspen for a summer isn't that bad either. I can truly say that this summer completely changed me as an actor and a person and I am so excited to take that with me through the rest of my career/life. 

TAAP Class 2015: Billy Cohen, Performance Apprentice

August 19, 2015

Well, somehow it’s almost time to leave this incredible place, and I find myself, predictably, wondering where all of the time has gone. As I transition into my senior year and life beyond graduation, I will take with me so much that I’ve learned here, including, but not limited to:

1. How to order an Iced Gold Mine Latte at Peach’s with incredible efficiency
2. How to mask the smell of my sweaty kneepads during rehearsal
3. How to watch a movie on a laptop with 3-4 other people
4. How to replicate some recipes from Broadway Nosh’s own Kirsten Wyatt
5. How to exist in a thrust
6. How to upsell cocktails with clever show-related titles
7. How to master public transportation
8. How to differentiate between a goldendoodle and a labradoodle
9. How to take nature-themed instagrams that are sure to get lots of likes
10. How to understand that the gondola is perfectly safe EVEN when it’s windy
11. How to sight-read guitar alongside Laurence O’Keefe
12. How to learn music exactly correct before singing it for the composers
13. How to laugh at my mistakes
14. How to stop being intimidated
15. How to push myself outside of rehearsal
16. How to be a better friend


So, all in all I’ve learned some things since I’ve been here that I really will take with me in the years to come. This theater truly is a special one with incredible, down to earth people who genuinely care about what they do. Not to mention, they do it damn well. I’m so thankful I’ve been given the opportunity to be here, and can only hope I get to return ASAP! I’m sad to leave, but, in the end, “it’s supposed to hurt. That’s how you know it meant something.”

TAAP Class 2015: Elizabeth Roth, Technical Theatre - Lighting Apprentice

July 16, 2015

In about a week I will have been in Aspen for about two months.  Every morning I wake up and walk outside I still can’t believe where I am.  Coming from Ohio, I’m far more familiar with cornfields than I am with mountains.  This summer is the second time I’ve made it out west in my life, and it has only confirmed to me the unspoken beauty that so many people (especially in the Midwest) do not realize is in our own country.  I get to eat lunch outside in the John Denver Sanctuary right outside the tent.  I had the opportunity to go to Snowmass and enjoy a free concert on the side of the mountain.  And most amazingly, I’ve started to hike on any day off I manage to get, including scaling my first 14er (Castle Peak, 14,300ft) along with two of my coworkers and friends. 

As far as work goes, I’ve already learned more in the past two months than I ever imagined I would.  In order to make the tent functional, there is far more setup than a normal theatre space.  We spent the first week or two setting up electricity and lighting to allow the tent to function as any other theater.  It was only after tent setup was finished that we even started to think about hanging the instruments that would eventually light four different shows in the space.  The rest of load in was basically the same as it would be in any other theatre…except for the extreme temperature changes and lack of easily accessible electricity and only three ladders between all departments among other small inconveniences.  The next big thing was tech, first for Junie B. Jones, followed almost directly by Cabaret.  Both of these shows are a ton of fun both to run and to watch.  I sit now in our second day of tech for Peter and the Starcatcher which I will be running the board for during the show.  Paul Black, lighting designer for Cabaret, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Other Desert Cities, was gracious enough to allow me some time to program on the light board (an ETC Ion for anyone who knows or cares) despite my lack of experience, the presence of a much, much greater programmer, and the incredible time crunch of this particular tech.  Though it was certainly stressful for the little while that I sat there and I felt Paul getting frustrated at times with my slow fingers, I learned some great new tricks and got a chance to practice my programming abilities.

Beyond the indescribable beauty that is Aspen, CO and the opportunities to work and learn is the company full of fabulous people I get to work with every day.  While my love of theatre as an art form has driven me to enter this field, I’ve learned that what really makes (or breaks) working here are the people you get to work with.  Theatre people can be the worst people or the best people you will ever meet, and I think it is fair to say that Theatre Aspen has attracted the best, all the way from the artistic director down to my fellow apprentices.  I feel so fortunate to have been picked up out of the middle of nowhere in Ohio to come to such a reputable organization with such unbelievable people.  I cannot wait to spend more time with these wonderful people partaking in adventures both in and out of the theatre in my remaining time in Aspen!

TAAP Class 2015: Amanda Paige, Performance Apprentice

July 16, 2015

As I am reflecting on my past two months here in Colorado I am starting to get a little emotional, as I am half way through my journey with Theatre Aspen. I truly can’t believe how much I have accomplished thus far and how much I’ve learned in just a short period of time. My first day here was something I’ll never forget, I had a 14 hour day at the airport due to two cancelled flights and a 2 hour layover that turned into 5 hours. I flew from New Jersey to Denver and then Denver to Aspen. I finally loaded my plane to Aspen and I remember flying over the gorgeous snow-covered Rockies when all of a sudden the flight attendant came over the loudspeaker and said “ unfortunately due to extreme weather we will have to turn around and let everyone off in Denver.” The entire plane immediately started panicking and making arrangements to get to Aspen, this being my first time flying alone across the country I had no clue what to do and thought I was going to be completely stranded in Denver.  Lucky enough, I grabbed the last seat (literally in the last row) on the last flight out to Aspen that night. I was terrified that this incident was going to be a direct reflection on what my time here would be like, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Moving to Aspen has forced the tomboy out of me, not only do I enjoy biking and hiking but for the first time in my life I look forward getting my hands dirty with painting sets, climbing mountains and dancing in the rain. Being a part of two shows this season (Cabaret and Junie B. Jones) has really been a dream come true. Both casts are so amazing that I look forward to coming to “work” every day. I’ve never been a part of a company where everyone puts their heart and soul into making the shows come together, every single night. From the crew to the front of house staff to the actors everyone works countless hours and always has a smile on their face. From opening night gifts to Sunday BBQs every person makes sure you are aware of how loved and supported you are. It really feels like a family away from home.

 Theatre Aspen has opened my eyes to what it’s like to work in a professional rehearsal and show environment. Words cannot describe how honored I am to perform along side some of Broadways most accomplished actors. Each day I feel challenged but eager to learn more, and am constantly picking these actors brains when we get down time. I feel confident entering my senior year of college at The Boston Conservatory with a little more knowledge about what to expect when I’m out in the “real world.” Theatre Aspen has offered me an experience unlike any other theatre I’ve worked at. I am so excited to continue my time here and am really looking forward to what’s ahead!  

TAAP Class 2015: Kelsey Schergen, Performance Apprentice

July 2, 2015

In the past month, I have opened two shows, started rehearsals for a third, gotten a bikers tan, performed with Broadway stars, and met some awesome new people.  I moved to Aspen the day after I graduated NYU ready to start a new adventure.  Needless to say, it was a big culture shock.  People here say "hello" on the street (a threatening move in NYC) and are constantly hiking and exploring the outdoors.  Everywhere I look, I feel like I am living in a travel postcard.  

On top of the beautiful scenery, I am in awe of the incredible work that is being done at Theatre Aspen.  I made the mistake of looking up/stalking the people I would be performing with.  They’re all Broadway stars; which is both intimidating and exciting at the same time.  Yet, they are some of the kindest and most giving people/performers I have ever met. Instead of looking down on those who are younger and less experienced, they have treated us as peers and collaborators.   

The main show that I am performing in this summer is Junie B. Jones.  A lot of people frown on children’s theatre as though it is easier or “dumbed-down” art.  I can honestly say Junie B. Jones has been one of the most difficult shows I have ever worked on.  As our director says, with children’s theatre the performers have even more of a responsibility to create good work.  This show is the first theatre a lot of the children will be exposed to, thus it shapes the way in which they view theatre and the arts.  Theatre has been such an important part of my life, and I hope to share that passion with future generations.  

All in all, it’s been a crazy month here in Aspen.  In the words of Junie B. Jones, “If you ask me how I’m feeling, I would have to tell you wow!"

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