By Maureen Mullarkey
When Danielle Nigro got a callback for the Mainstage Theatre Department production of "Rent" in fall 2013, she was told she might not be cast because of her conflicting night chemistry class.
"I was a biochemistry major, but I was dead set on to be a doctor," said the junior from Holtsville, N.Y. "But something in my head was like: 'Go, change this now.'"
After changing her class schedule, Nigro was cast in the role of Maureen in "Rent" and officially changed her major to theatre. In less than two years, Nigro's dedication to acting has not only helped her grow into a prominent Mainstage performer, playing a lead role in five Mainstage shows, but is the first theatre student to be selected for the Summer Scholars and Artists Program.
Nigro's project consisted of a sixweek summer acting program at the William Esper Studio in Manhattan. Under the Meisner technique an acting method that encourages actors to focus on external factors and on the present moment she took voice, speech, movement and acting classes. Every day Nigro corresponded online with her faculty mentor, Anne Brady, by writing daily journals and weekly goals.
Nigro will use her training this fall to devise a solo performance show at the Theatre Department's open house.
"This is something that I never would have been able to do without the scholarship and this is something that's going to really push me along in my career," she said.
Brady, a professor in the Theatre Department at Harpur College, said Nigro is one of the most "naturally talented and hardworking young actors I have ever had the opportunity to to teach and direct."
"Danielle's determination and thirst to improve herself as an actress by getting the most training and experience she could is clear to all of us in the Theatre Department," Brady said. "Since I've known Danielle, I have been impressed with her curiosity, her creativity, her integrity and her drive. Onstage, Danielle is capable of extreme vulnerability and great strength as well as keen humor. No one works harder."
Nigro believes that regardless of their major, students should take advantage of all of Harpur's opportunities.
"I'm hoping that by doing this, it's to show that you don't have to be a biology (student) to take these opportunities," she said. "There's all these things that the school has to offer and I think people ignore that."
Nigro said that although the purpose of the program is to better herself, the final performance matters most: Like other performances, it unites the community.
"We have such a small department but there's something about theatre that brings everyone together. When we have shows, I see other students besides the theatre kids," she said. "There's types of shows that can change people for the better, and I think that's very important."
Last Updated: 3/1/17