NESA Graduates Work on Broadway and Beyond – San Antonio Express-News | WHs Answers

Students at the North East School of the Arts spent some of the dwindling hours of their summer vacation on campus hoping to land roles in the three major theater productions planned for the coming school year.

On Tuesday afternoon, veteran performers entered a black box theater at the Performing Arts Center on LEE High School’s campus and made their way to the piano to hand over their grades. They belted out segments of carefully chosen songs and then delivered short monologues.

Some newcomers to Magnet High School, unsure of how the audition worked, asked where to stand, sometimes giving their age when introducing themselves. One, realizing too late that sheet music was required, ended up singing “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” from “Guys and Dolls” to a song on his phone.

The teenagers tried their hand at roles in The Little Mermaid, The Crucible, and Funny Girl. In addition, many hope to follow the path that NESA alumni have taken on stage and film.

“We pride ourselves on being a professional training ground,” said Daniel Everidge, who is entering his second year as director of the school’s drama program. “You can get a theater education in many places, but it’s real, professional knowledge you need to get a head start in the world of musical theater and theater.”

Everidge, 38, knows what he’s talking about. He graduated from NESA in 2002 and his professional credits include the hit film The Greatest Showman and the 2007 Broadway revival Grease. new operas and musicals; and Edwin Bates, understudy and dance captain for the Tony-winning Broadway musical A Strange Loop.

David Connelly, who retired about a year ago after directing the school’s drama program for more than 20 years, keeps tabs on many of his former students, reveling in their achievements and offering advice and encouragement.

“It’s a journey to remember them as they walked into their ninth grade performance classes at 14, nervous and trying to find their way, and now to feel the thrill of seeing them actually DOING!” he said in a Facebook message.

Daniel Everidge (right) played the Lord of Leeds in The Greatest Showman. He now directs the acting program at the North East School of the Arts in San Antonio, his alma mater.

20th Century Fox/Contributed Photo

Back to school

Everidge decided to transition to teaching during the pandemic shutdown after he and a few other alums helped teach a Zoom audition class for NESA. Connelly announced that he was planning to retire and encouraged him to apply for the job.

“It almost felt like a fantasy film where the master passes the throne to his young apprentice,” Everidge said. “It’s almost like I have to do Greatest Showman, I have to do one of the pinnacles of anything I’ve had the chance to do in my career. And now I could give something back.”

On ExpressNews.com: NESA Student Wins Grand Prize at National High School Musical Theater Awards

Everidge played the Lord of Leeds in the 2017 film with Hugh Jackman, one of the “oddities”.

“We rehearsed all day and then they brought in Hugh Jackman. He knew everyone’s name and he said hello and goodbye to everyone,” he said. “On Fridays he had this funny thing where he gave out scratch cards to everyone in the building. So the rehearsals were just a joy. I was overwhelmed every day.”

It was Everidge’s second film. His first was in the 2013 Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis, in which he had a small role as an Irish musician.

“I have two big movies on my resume and I’m very proud of both,” he said.

A graduate of North East School of the Arts, Chloe Treat has pursued a career as a director and choreographer specializing in new musical theater and opera.

A graduate of North East School of the Arts, Chloe Treat has pursued a career as a director and choreographer specializing in new musical theater and opera.

India Treat/courtesy photo

With mica glass

Treat, who graduated from NESA in 2009, started out as a dance major. She’s not sure why, but Connelly insisted she was in the wrong place, and in her senior year she became a double major, majoring in dance and drama.

“He always felt like this was the career for me,” she said. “I was talking to him recently and I had this really genuine moment where I was like, ‘You know, my entire career is thanks to you.’

“But then I thought, ‘Actually, it’s a terrible career, so I guess another way of putting that is I can blame you for my entire career,'” she added, laughing. “I either have to make him think of it or blame him, depending on the day. Anyone who works in theater knows that.”

Treat, 30, has pursued a career as a choreographer and director specializing in new works in musical theater and opera. She is currently based in Cooperstown, New York directing a double production for the Glimmerglass Festival, the prestigious opera company. The works are the world premiere of Holy Ground, Lila Palmer’s and Damien Geter’s vision of the hunt for a woman ready to give birth to the Messiah; and “Taking Up Serpents,” by Kamala Sankaram and Jerry Dye, about a preacher’s estranged daughter who is bitten by one of his snakes.

“Directing Glimmerglass is definitely the most prestigious job I’ve had at this point in my career, so it’s a really huge, exciting deal,” she said.

Connelly helped her develop her skills after graduating from NESA, including inviting her to direct a school production of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

On ExpressNews.com: NESA alumna comes home to stage ‘Blood Wedding’

“I thought this production was so wonderful, and it was the first time that I was so flexible and people trusted me and said, ‘Do what you want to do,'” she said. So NESA and Mr. Connelly have been that force that has encouraged me for a variety of different milestones in my career.

North East School of the Arts graduate Edwin Bates is understudy and dance captain for the Broadway musical "A strange loop."

North East School of the Arts graduate Edwin Bates is the understudy and dance captain for the Broadway musical A Strange Loop.

Edwin Bates

On Broadway

Bates, 28, relies on some of their NESA training when they take to the stage in A Strange Loop. Bates serves as dance captain and understudy in three roles, including the lead, in the big buzz musical.

“It really helped you figure out how to get into the work and get to the emotional places and that it’s possible to let go of those things so you don’t have to carry those things into your day,” they said. “This is so important now because the content of ‘A Strange Loop’ is very heavy. If I put all of that into my everyday life, I don’t think I could keep my head above water.”

Bates said “A Strange Loop” was a big step forward in their career and the first time they saw themselves on stage. It’s about a black gay theater artist who writes a play about a black gay theater artist who writes a play about a black gay theater artist.

“It feels so special, especially as a black queer gender trans person,” they said. “There are so many little parts of me that make me who I am that people can relate to and hopefully it inspires them to see themselves in places like this in their imaginations and in a way that helping them to actually make it happen.”

Bates came to work on the show after touring with Carole King’s jukebox musical Beautiful, in which she played one of the Drifters and also served as the dance captain.

Her passion for dance took root at NESA. There they learned, among other things, that it is also possible for a taller person to pursue a career in dance, which previously did not appear to be an option.

“I literally pinch myself every time I’m able to,” Bates said. “Every time I read that I’m the dance captain on a Broadway show, it’s too cool for me.”

Nicholas Barron is the first San Antonian to receive top honors at the Jimmy Awards, the national high school musical theater awards held in New York.

Nicholas Barron is the first San Antonian to receive top honors at the Jimmy Awards, the national high school musical theater awards held in New York.

Full Out Creative

The Jimmys winner

Some students can apply the skills they learn at NESA while they are still in school. Nicholas Barrón, 17, spent the first three years of high school at NESA. In June, he became the first San Antonian to win a top two award at the National High School Musical Theater Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards. Barrón competed in a field of 92 young artists from across the country.

He said the training he received at NESA helped him compete. Knowing how to fine-tune vocal performances was particularly useful.

Here are five other artists who studied at the North East School of the Arts and have gone on to high-profile careers as artists:

Cody Garcia: Toured as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and starred in Disney Cruise Lines productions of Beauty and the Beast and Tangled.

Jared Howelton: Credits include the Chicago and Broadway productions of Hamilton, toured in Motown: The Musical and Shrek: The Musical.

Curtis Holbrook: Broadway credits include SpongeBob SquarePants, If/Then, and The Addams Family. The films include “Across the Universe” and “Hairspray”.

Andy Richardson: Appeared in “Newsies on Broadway” and on national tours of “Wicked”, “Kinky Boots” and “Newsies”.

Trato Anderson: Played Rum Tum Tugger on the Cats national tour.


“Knowing how to break down a song and how to get inside the head of that character really gives you a little bit of the upper hand,” he said.

Despite this, he decided to go to a different school for his senior year. Jimmy’s win opened up the possibility of some performance opportunities that may be difficult to capitalize on if he stays at NESA, he said.

“I want a little bit more opportunity, a little bit more freedom with my schedule,” he said. “It’s a very rewarding schedule, but it’s tight. Since there are some job offers, I wanted to keep that a little open.

“Nevertheless, I am very grateful for what I was able to learn there.”

dlmartin@express-news.net | Twitter: @DeborahMartinEN

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