Thousands of students leave Provo every summer to find work to pay for school in various ways. A lucky few find a way of doing something they love, progressing their education and making money all at the same time.
From Canada to Wyoming to Provo Canyon, several students performed for the summer to make money for school.
Devin Neilson, a sophomore studying music dance theater, joined four other BYU students to perform at the Carriage House Theater in Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
“For me it was a chance to build my resumé because I hadn’t done a lot of performing on stage in the past,” Neilson said. “As a performer I felt like I learned a lot about my voice, my ability to pick up on choreography quicker, and now I can begin to create stories in my head to share them on stage easier.”
Neilson not only came away from this experience having made money for school; he also gained experience.
“It was rewarding because I was doing something that I love to do and will be studying in school,” Neilson said. “It made it more meaningful. It inspired me to work harder. It was a big confidence booster for me.”
The production of “Annie Get Your Gun” was performed at the Eccles Outdoor Amphitheater just a couple miles up the canyon at the Sundance Resort. The cast, full of BYU students, was choreographed by BYU professor Nathan Balser.
One of those students was Alicia Shumway, from Tokyo. Shumway is a senior majoring in music dance theater and minoring in editing. Shumway, a member of the talented dance ensemble, worked during the day as a proofreader for the LDS Church publishing department and rehearsed and performed at night.
“It was hard to juggle,” Shumway said, “but worth it to do something I love.”
After graduating Shumway plans to go to New York City and try to make it on Broadway. Because of this, she was grateful to work with Balser, who spent several years on Broadway before coming to BYU as a professor.
“It was such a privilege to work with him,” she said. “He’s been really successful.”
These sorts of mentor relationships make performing in summer theater more valuable to students than any paycheck. They give students the opportunity to build networks they can utilize as they pursue their dreams in the performing arts.