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Alums Relish Chance to Perform at Concert Under the Stars

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At Saturday’s Concert Under the Stars, current theatre and dance majors and alumni delighted the audience with their singing and dancing. We asked some of the grads how it felt to return to the stage at their alma mater.

Brooke Aston ‘02

Over the years, Aston has been a “regular” at Concert Under the Stars performances. As a student, she always attended the concert but never performed. 

“I have carried the lessons I learned in the theater department at CSUF into every role,” she said. “Whether it was listening and reacting the way that Jim Taulli taught me, holding my arms in a more beautiful way as Macarena Gandarillas showed me, or writing a cover letter or resume the way that Jim Volz taught us, the mark left on me by CSUF has permeated every part of my professional life. I could go on and on about the professors at the University.”

What does she most enjoy about performing at on campus?

“I love being able to hang out with the students who are currently in the program. I like to hear what they want out of their education and, hopefully, give them some worthwhile advice about what they may face when they get out of school.

“I’d also like to add that Roger Castellano (concert director) makes every rehearsal a pleasure. He is patient, knowledgeable and clear. I am so happy to work with him during this magical evening!”

Antwone Barnes ‘15

“I never got a chance to actually perform at Concert Under the Stars as a student,” said Barnes. “This was my debut. As an alumnus, I think my head is just in a different place than when I was a student.

“Post-college will have that affect on you,” he laughed.

For Barnes, Cal State Fullerton played a crucial role in his preparation before he took to the stage. “I always try to maintain the integrity a performer needs. CSUF made that very clear for me,” he said. “The effect that I can have on the audience inspires me every time I go on stage.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure being part of the process for Concert Under The Stars. I’m definitely going to miss the magic of that wonderful night! I just want to wish the best of luck to the performers of next year’s Concert Under The Stars and all CSUF endeavors.”

Averi Jenkins ‘12

This was also the first time for Jenkins to take the stage for the annual event.

“I didn’t perform at Concert Under the Stars as a student, but I was cast in a few shows at school and locally. I started in the musical theatre B.F.A. program but spent the majority of my time as a costume and makeup designer working on plays, musicals and even an opera. Honestly, it was strange being out in front on the stage again rather than behind the scenes.

“It was a thrill to perform with such amazing people — some of whom I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting. With the others, it was such a joy to work with them again. It was a dream come true. I had to pinch myself before I went on stage — I remember the first time I saw Concert Under the Stars when I was 18 and I geeked out a little, realizing that I was going to be in it this year.” 

Emily Mitchell Lindbeck ‘00

Lindbeck has performed on four different concert occasions. 

“I received a lot of wonderful training in all aspects of theater (vocal, acting and dancing) from so many great professors at Cal State Fullerton,” she said. “The training I received gave me a foundation of technique, and this foundation, mixed with real-world experience, helped me to prepare and embrace these one-night events. “

What does Lindbeck most enjoy about performing on campus?

“What I love most is coming back and catching up with professors, as well as alums throughout the week during rehearsals,” she said. “There are always alums that I’m working with for the first time, so it’s great to meet other alumni and learn what they have been up to since graduating. 

“It’s also fun to meet the current students and hear about their journey at CSUF … I’m blown away by their energy and passion,” she continued. “It really inspires me to kick it up a notch.  And of course, the night of the event is always a thrilling experience. It’s pretty cool watching how things progress from the first day of rehearsals to the opening (and closing) night!”

Lindbeck remembers attending her first concert as a student in 1996.

“It is an amazing memory. I was a sophomore and was able to experience such an exciting event that celebrated the students, alumni and the community,” she said. “To be honest, I never imagined that I would be performing in Concert Under the Stars years later, but I’m so grateful that the school has reached out to involve me in such a special event.  My family and I are looking forward to watching next year’s concert!”