Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (RTSL) Artistic Director Steven Woolf attends the annual first-day auditions sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Conservatory take part in. Woolf looks for talented students in these auditions who are suited for work in the RTSL shows.
Conservatory Senior Megan Stevenson was cast as an ensemble member and dancer for the 2012-2013 run of “Sense and Sensibility” at the RTSL. Stevenson performed in the show while also working behind the scenes.
Stevenson said the RTSL and Conservatory’s connection benefits not only the theaters, but also the Conservatory students.
“It’s kind of connected in a way. It’s used as a way to use people as crew. It’s either finding an actress who can do that part and paying them, or having students do it for the experience and connections (for free).”
Stevenson said a major plus to working in Repertory shows is experiencing directing by well-known directors. “Sense and Sensibility” was directed by Jon Jory. Stevenson said while working with Jory on her résumé was a perk, experiencing his directing benefited her greatly.
“Seeing the way he saw things and the way he talked to the actors was really great,” Stevenson said. “He would include us. At first I didn’t think he would really talk to us at all.”
Conservatory alumnus Ben Nordstrom performed in RTSL shows in his time at Webster. He said he learned more through the RTSL shows than he did within the Conservatory.
“As a student, what’s great is that you can be cast in Rep shows if they need a young character or small roles,” Nordstrom said. “I learned as much or more from those roles. The rep hired almost exclusively from New York and you see the process.”
Working at the RTSL gives Conservatory students a chance to interact with traveled directors and actors. Stevenson said spending time with actors who have achieved goals she has set for herself inspired her.
The RTSL gave Stevenson a chance to see how professionals work on a day-to-day basis. She said the experience was a highlight of her career at the Conservatory.
“Getting to see actors in a professional setting; how they work, getting to know them, getting to know their stories of how they came to be working at the Rep,” Stevenson said. “I feel like it was really valuable.”
While being cast in RTSL shows can be rewarding, it adds more onto the already-full plate of Conservatory students, Stevenson said. Between Conservatory classes and shows, and Repertory obligations, she found little time for homework and free time.
“I had never missed a Conservatory class in my life, even when I was sick,” Stevenson said. “I missed a lot of class for the Rep show,” Stevenson said. “Sometimes I’d run backstage and try to type up my homework and then ‘oh, there’s my line,’ and run back onto stage. It was exhausting.”
Even with a heavy course load, Stevenson said being cast for a RTSL show is a challenge every Conservatory student should experience.
“I think it was worth it,” Stevenson said. “In the long run I made some really great connections in the real world and for where I want to go. That experience of getting to be on the Rep stage was a huge part.”