KINGSTON, R.I. – May 7, 2012 – Jenna Broccolo loved to act in school plays as a student at Westerly High School, but she didn’t really know what a stage manager was until she enrolled at the University of Rhode Island. As she prepares to graduate on May 20, she is looking forward to an internship at Disney World as a stepping-stone to a career in stage management.
“When I got to the theater department at URI, I found that the people were fun and friendly, and they really emphasized the community aspect of working in the theater,” said Broccolo. “We work closely together, we’re with each other every night at rehearsal, and it’s really like we’re a family.”
During her four years at URI, Broccolo has worked on a dozen shows in a variety of capacities. She worked the soundboard and operated spotlights as an underclassman, and served as assistant stage manager for a festival of one-act plays and for the 2010 performance of A Flea in Her Ear. She was stage manager for The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2011 and this spring’s performance of Singin’ in the Rain.
“There have been a handful of professors who have been truly inspirational for me, especially Paula McGlasson,” she said. “She really pushes me, and I know she’s doing it to better my skills and help me in the long run. She’s an inspiring person and a really good professor.”
In addition to her involvement with the URI theater program, Broccolo also worked at Theater-by-the-Sea in Matunuck, where she gained experience and important contacts.
“My experience there is why I continued on as a theater major,” she said. “I met a lot of professional actors and stage managers who let me know that I could do what they do and encouraged me to keep going.”
Despite the time commitment required to be a theater major, Broccolo also found time to be an active participant in the URI Newman Club, a Catholic service group.
“I was involved in a Catholic youth group in high school, so when I came to URI, one of the first things I did was seek out the Catholic Center,” she said.
Broccolo joined other Newman Club members on two visits to an orphanage in Nicaragua, where they worked with disabled children and helped build a new orphanage.
“The kids there were mostly abandoned at a young age, so we helped in any way we could,” she said. “We helped feed the kids, we dug holes for a new fence and made a foundation for a new building. It was a great experience.”
After she graduates from URI, Broccolo will spend five months as an intern at Disney World, where she will work in the costume department helping the Disney characters with their costumes and, she hopes, managing the logistics of the costume operation.
Eventually she hopes to find her way to a metropolitan area – preferably New York City or Chicago – to work in professional theater.
“My dream job is as a stage manager on Broadway,” Broccolo concluded. “I made a lot of contacts at Theater-by-the-Sea, and they told me to call them when I graduate. Hopefully I can go on tour with one of them or they can open my eyes to other opportunities.”