Theater arts — emphasis in musical theater
“Don’t take a single second for granted.”
With the conclusion of the play “Mockingbird,” theater major Connor Padilla’s acting career at Weber State University came to a close. Soon Padilla will depart from Utah and head east to work on getting a Master in Fine Arts from Florida Atlantic University.
Padilla said he appreciates the theater program at WSU. “It’s a program . . . that a lot of people take for granted.” He said the professors in the program not only emphasized being a good actor, but taught him a lot about being a good person.
Padilla also held great esteem for the nature of all the shows he got to participate in, particularly “Mockingbird.” He said he enjoyed playing the main character’s father in “Mockingbird” because he got to “tell a really compelling story that also has relevance in our community.”
Padilla said he wants those still attending WSU to know there is opportunity around every corner. He said he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had at WSU.
“I’m extremely grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve been given here, and I’m very excited for the next chapter of my life.”
Theater arts — emphasis in costume design
“Don’t underestimate Weber State. It’s a hidden treasure.”
The next adventure for theater graduate Mandee Shaffer will be an international one. At the completion of this school year, she will head to the United Kingdom to help teach a study-abroad class with an emphasis on Shakespeare.
Shaffer said she loved the theater faculty at WSU. “We get along and have a great time together — incredibly enjoyable.”
She’s grateful for the opportunities her professors have created for her, especially the chance to design costumes for the WSU musical “The Plain Princess.”
“Watching my costume designs come to life in ‘Plain Princess’, being able to design such a wonderful show . . . and having people adore the show and the costumes was an absolutely phenomenal experience,” Shaffer said.
After she finishes teaching classes in the U.K., Shaffer would like to attend graduate school there and continue to study her passion, Shakespearean theater. However, she said she will not forget where she came from or her many wonderful experiences at WSU.
“We can do hard things.”
When she isn’t playing an invention with multiple counter melodies by Bach, piano performance major Brienna Favero likes hanging out with the other piano majors in the upper halls of the Browning Center. She said these moments with her fellow students will be what she misses most after she has graduated.
Favero said that, at WSU, she loved that she was always “meeting people from so many different places. . . .I’ve learned a lot about life. I’ve had a lot of cool experiences and opportunities.”
After she graduates, she wants to start her own piano studio and to continue collaborative performance work with other musicians.
As advice to her fellow piano majors, she said not to get overwhelmed and just take things one day at a time.
“Rather than looking at all the stuff you had to do, look at the stuff you need to accomplish today,” Favero said. “. . . Weber’s awesome. It’s been cool.”
Dance performance and choreography
“Follow yourself and take care of yourself.”
Following her completion of her bachelor’s degree at WSU, Cass Christianson wants to start her own dance company with a focus on excellent pedagogy and social involvement. Christianson said she wants to bring the spirit of service associated with WSU’s dance department to her own studio.
Her involvement in the community engaged projects like the Moving Company, a group that taught about environmental responsibility this year, and Mozwoc, a collaboration between WSU and No Poor Among Us that works to benefit women in Africa, helped solidify Christianson’s service goals. She said that when she opens her own studio and starts performances, “every performance we do will go to local nonprofits specific to Utah.“
About her time at WSU, Christianson said, “I would never want to trade the life experience I had . . . The life experiences in getting where you get are what really matter.”