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Showcasing CSUF Talent

Alumni, Preeminents Perform at Sept. 21 Concert Under the Stars

Sept. 5, 2013

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Alumna Brooke Aston performed in Concert Under the Stars in 2009, and will return this year.

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Kick, swing, twirl, sing. Members of The Preeminents, a popular student performing group, are rehearsing six hours a week to nail their musical numbers at the Sept. 21 Concert Under the Stars, CSUF’s signature fundraising event.

“Sell it!” Mitchell Hanlon, the concert’s musical director told the theater arts seniors — Erica Beck, Michael Dashefsky, Devon Hadsell, Stephanie Inglese, Kirk Lawson, Dominic Leslie, Charles McCoy, Jack Riordan, Andrew Sattler, Mallory Staley and Keaton Williams — during a recent rehearsal.

“To have this experience is so special to us,” Sattler said between numbers. “We’re getting ready to be in front of our biggest audience, and they will be expecting us to be perfect and Broadway-ready. It’s exciting.”

That’s the aim, Hanlon said, adding that those who attend the concert are in for an “uplifting event of music and dance and impressive talent.”

For the College of the Arts students, Concert Under the Stars “is a capstone experience,” said Eve Himmelheber, associate professor of theatre and dance. "We prepared their medleys last spring, and sent them away for the summer to continue to memorize and study the show. The students returned to begin ‘pick-up’ rehearsals, basically to refresh their memories, so we continue to move forward, and they are teaching the choreography to the junior musical theatre majors, their understudies.”

Students learn to work quickly and adapt to changing direction and choreography, and many get hired to perform professionally upon graduation, she added. “The students are so thrilled that Concert has returned. It is one of their only opportunities to be seen by more than 5,000 people at once. Many wait for this opportunity from the time they are freshmen, working as hard as they can to get into the B.F.A. program, with the Concert performance in their sights.”

Headlining the evening's musical program, "I Believe in Music," are College of the Arts alumni whose credits include Broadway national touring productions and television. They are: Brooke Aston ’02 (B.F.A. theatre arts), Jennifer Hubilla ’02 (B.F.A. theatre arts), Emily Mitchell ’00 (B.A. theatre arts), Erin McNally ’02 (B.A. theatre arts), Louis Pardo, Kate Peters ’79 (M.M.) and Brad Standley ’05 (B.F.A. theatre arts), plus Himmelheber ’95 (M.F.A. theatre arts-acting). 

Also being featured is Kirsten Vangsness '96 (B.A. theatre arts), who plays technophile Penelope Garcia on the CBS hit series "Criminal Minds."

The show's director is James R. Taulli ’94 (M.F.A. theatre arts-directing), associate dean of the College of the Arts. 

CSUF, Hubilla said, “provided me the tools needed to succeed in this industry.” Immediately upon graduating, she was cast in the lead role of Kim for the national tour of “Miss Saigon.” She also was Jasmine in “Aladdin” in the U.K. and Mulan in Disney’s “Mulan” at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Utah.

“My experience at CSUF was very nurturing,” Hubilla added. “I learned so much from my professors. They helped me to grow as a performer through tough love, and helped me to prepare for future auditions in the real world.”

Peters also credits CSUF for her successful career. She said she could never have imagined where her voice would take her when she earned her graduate degree more than three decades ago. She has performed concert music and opera around the world, and today records and performs in cabaret and concerts.

For tickets and more information about the concert, visit Concert Under the Stars.

By: Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586

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