The Young Company: Summers to Remember

Hi, PSF Community! For those who may not know me, my name is Angela LaRose and I am a recent graduate of the DeSales University theatre program. During my time as a student, I had the wonderful opportunity to work at PSF for three years. Being part of PSF was absolutely the highlight of my college career. A huge part of what drew me to DeSales was its close affiliation with a professional regional theatre, and I am so blessed to say that I have no regrets about where I ended up for my four years. The incredible heights that PSF’s programming took me to in those three summers have gone unmatched.

My first two years with the Festival I served as an apprentice in the show-stopping musicals Evita and Ragtime. Musical theatre was what I fell in love with at a young age, and I have always been captivated by every little thing that goes into crafting major productions. The pure athleticism of the performers, the artistry of the design team, and the incredible minds behind the director’s table were ultimately what inspired me to pursue theatre. PSF gave me my first glimpse into what it was like to be a small part of the even larger machine that is a professional company. It was eye opening to watch the processes of every actor in rehearsals and begin to learn the ins and outs of the business from every individual in the company.

When I made my professional debut with PSF my freshman year, I had no idea the opportunities the apprentice program would afford me in summers to come. The summer of Ragtime will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the summer that I made my professional debut in a principle role understudying the role of Evelyn Nesbit! I knew prior to the start of rehearsals that I would get to go on for two performances on a two-show day, but nothing prepared me for the overwhelming feelings of joy and excitement the day brought! The cast and crew signed cards for me, and Michele Ragusa, who played Emma Goldman in our production, was a member of the original Broadway company of Ragtime and performed the role of Evelyn Nesbit on Broadway , brought her robe and script from the show for me to wear and look at. The sense of community and family I felt on that day was unparalleled. Everyone came together to make sure my tracking went smoothly, calm me down when my nerves overtook me, and shower me with love the whole way through.

In every show I was a part of with the Festival, I was always astonished by how quickly a group of strangers became a unit, a family. Of course, when you spend six weeks together rehearsing and sharing all your free time, you are bound to become close with those around you. Some of the most meaningful relationships I have in my life either began or were strengthened by a summer spent at PSF.

It is hard to say which summer at PSF was my favorite, because I loved each of them for their own reasons, but last summer might have been my favorite. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Young Company for the first time, which meant I got to spend the whole summer in Center Valley working on various productions in the season. I would start my days performing in the children’s show, then rehearse for the musical in the afternoon, and fit in rehearsals for our Young Company Shakespeare Project all along the way. Later in the summer, I was also part of the Extreme Shakespeare! This was certainly the most artistically fulfilling summer for me because I got to play a goofy sidekick by day, a showgirl by night, and later, an English noblewoman all in three months. That is what I loved about the Young Company program so much; all of us were entrusted with such a wonderful variety of complex characters to explore in such a short time span. It really forced us to flex our “actor muscles” and produce authentic, grounded, meaningful work to be held to a professional standard. It truly is a training ground that benefits students as they move forward in their education or as they embark on the start of their professional careers. I am extremely grateful for my experiences, and how they have shaped me as a performer.

Matt Pfeiffer, our director of The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian last summer, often shared with us his experiences as a member of the Young Company. He always told us to cherish the time we got to spend together as a company because it would never be like that again. The odds of us all being together in one room, working on a show in any capacity might be slim to none after PSF. I find it a bit ironic that last summer would be one of the last times those of us graduating in 2020 would be together in that way, and we had no idea. In a way, I’m glad we didn’t know it. When I found out that I would be spending my fourth and final summer with PSF as a member of the Young Company again, I found myself asking “I wonder if this summer will be able to live up to last summer?” I believe with every fiber of my being that it would have, and that it would have been just as fulfilling. It undeniably would have been full of even more joy, growth, and memories to last me a lifetime. But am I content with the final memories I do have to hold onto as a member of the Young Company? Absolutely.

Thanks, PSF. For all the “firsts,” for all you have taught me, and for some of the most meaningful relationships I have in my life. I am forever grateful.