Professionalism and Passion Intersect in Theatre Arts

  • By: Kassidy Weemhoff
  • Published: Apr 29, 2021 10:00AM

Q: When did you graduate from Taylor?

A: Spring of 2020.

Q: What about your Taylor experience in theater was helpful as you looked for a job? 

A: Professionally, Taylor gave me the know-how to market myself. I had three separate classes in which I had to work extensively on my website and various semesters where I had to talk through my repertoire book and audition materials with professors. It was because of these facets of the program that I was able to book my first paid gig with Hoosier Shakes before graduating.

Before transferring to Taylor, I looked at around 180 Christian liberal arts colleges and universities online. Out of these, I looked at what I considered to be the top 12 BFA musical theatre programs. When I visited Taylor I was shocked by the level of professionalism and maturity in the rehearsal room, and the way the students were treating the process with such reverence. 

I am deeply grateful I got to experience this firsthand. It was one of the many reasons I chose Taylor because I knew students were working at a level I was not accustomed to at the time. I am thankful for the way each of my professors worked to cultivate a reverence for rehearsal and the production process within me, because learning how to work in and outside of rehearsal and production is the first step in getting work.

Q: Do you enjoy your current work? How has Taylor prepared you for what you're doing now?

A: Currently, it is audition season, so I do not have anything booked at this time. Last February, I had the opportunity to go to UPTA 2020 (Unified Professional Theatre Auditions). Out of that experience I booked a two-show contract with Blue Gate Musicals. Unfortunately due to the pandemic that contract was postponed and then canceled.

Q: Where can we see you perform now?

A: If you want to see what I am up to, I update my website pretty regularly: https://www.johnnortonbroda.com/

Q: Is it difficult to balance faith and work in your current job?

A: Yes, but no. Before coming to Taylor, I struggled to see how I could pursue jobs with challenging or controversial content and still be a person of faith. I realize now that these two things, my faith and my art, are not mutually exclusive. After four years at Taylor, it is so clear to me that there are so many stories that need to be told that are not always easy or comfortable to tell. However, I know God is calling me and others to tell these difficult stories with honesty and integrity, because they give us all perspective, provide space for dialogue, and shine a light into the darkness. They bring up conversations that need to be had and might otherwise not happen. 

I believe God uses theatre and all art to help us start difficult conversations in order for us to better understand ourselves and each other.

If anything, the arts have helped me to awaken my spirituality. The arts ask us to be present, to critically think, and step into the lives of those around us.

Q: How did Taylor combine faith and theatre in your education?

A: As I said, I looked at many Christian liberal arts theatre programs before coming to Taylor. I can say without any hesitation that no Christian liberal arts institution is doing the kind of work that Taylor Theatre is doing. Each play and musical that happens in Mitchell Theatre is not simply a task, but an exercise in learning to look empathetically at the lives of other humans and their situations through the eyes of Jesus. Our professors challenge and empower students to think outside the box and critically think about every choice, in order for us to learn the art of articulation in our faith and art. The professors in the Music, Theatre, and Dance department worship through their art, and they have taught me how to do the same. 

I learned through my time at Taylor that my faith and my art are not separate, but one in the same. I learned that God has given me a medium through which I can outstretch my hands to those around me. I have a deep awareness now that every production I am a part of is a chance to not only deepen my faith, but to learn how to understand others on a deeper level in order to help those around me.

Q: Who has been influential in your experience in theatre?

A: Taylor Theatre and all the professors in The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance have been so influential in my growth as a human and artist. It is because of them that I think deeply, try to love better, and use my gifts to the best of my ability. 

Through my time at Taylor, God awakened what was asleep in my life. Ephesians 5:14 came up many times for me during my time at Taylor. To all my Taylor professors, thank you for being a part of awakening me from the deep sleep I fell into before being a part of Taylor Theatre.  I don’t think it is fully explainable in human terms, but Taylor Theatre seems to have some serious divine eternal blessing.  It may not always feel like that during the craziness of a show process, but it is one of the main things I will remember from my time at Taylor. 

It’s thanks to people like Ollie Hubbard, Tracy Manning, and all the Music, Theatre, and Dance faculty for carrying on a beautiful legacy with prayer, petition, and perseverance. I will always remember my time with Taylor Theatre as a constant flow of God’s faithfulness and love through a medium that draws people together in order that we might see him in a greater capacity than we ever did before. My life will never be the same because of that space in Mitchell Theatre and the people who work to use it to point others to Jesus by honing their craft.

If you’re interested in learning more about Taylor’s Theatre Arts program, click here. You can also find information about our Musical Theatre and Dance programs.