For the Bryant Players, the University’s theater group, there’s far more to a show than what you see on stage. It takes heart and grit and a close network of students who’ve come together through their love of performing and sharing their inspiration with others.
The Players stage three shows a year, chosen by the troupe’s members. In the fall they performed the classic comedy Clue, in the winter the drama Asylum. Their spring musical, It Shoulda Been You, is their most challenging show yet. “We wanted to push ourselves,” explains club President Dana Brokmeier ’21. “We’ve done more well-known shows like Footloose and Heathers in the past, but this year we wanted to do something more complex.”
"I got my first leadership experience through Players and it taught me how to work with people, how to be a resource to them, and how to make sure that they feel welcomed.”
The group has been working on the show for nearly three months, casting, choreographing routines, running lines, rehearsing, and building the set. That means long hours. For the Players, though, that’s just part of the fun. "I really look forward to rehearsals," says Matthew Raymond ’22, who’s been in all three of the troupe’s shows this year. "Even when it's a long rehearsal after a long day, we're always still laughing, still cracking jokes and enjoying spending time with one another.”
The ultimate group project
In addition to learning more about their acting craft, the Players hone and test what they’ve learned through their studies. “I’ve been able to take the things that I've done in management classes and used that with the Players,” says Jillian Buckley ’19, a Human Resources Management and Communication student. “Being able to apply what you learned in the classroom in a safe environment like that is one of the best things that a student can do.”
“This is the ultimate group project,” she explains. “You learn responsibility, and you also learn how to rely on others. I got my first leadership experience through Players and it taught me how to work with people, how to be a resource to them, and how to make sure that they feel welcomed.”
“It's just such a rewarding feeling, knowing that you and your cast mates and your directors and everyone who's involved in the production created something unique and personal.”
The troupe brings together students from all class years (including grad student Nicole D’Andrea ’18, who has returned to the Players to direct this year’s musical) and from both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business – some of whom have never performed before. The Players often are a gateway to the rest of the University’s performing arts scene, working – and sharing members with – groups such as the Velocity Dance team, the Bryant Improv Troupe, and vocal groups like the Bryant Singers and the award-winning The Bottom Line a capella group.
When new members join, Brokmeier explains, the Players often work with them to find additional outlets for their creativity. “We really want to hear what everyone has to say and give everyone else the same creative platform that we've been fortunate to have.”
Personal and unique
That platform is something the Players relish. They believe it’s a perfect outlet for creative expression and a great way to build bonds with new friends. “It's just such a rewarding feeling, knowing that you and your cast mates and your directors and everyone who's involved in the production created something unique and personal,” says Alexandra Sulmasy ’22, Assistant Director for It Shoulda Been You.
Robert Simoneau ’21 says his time with the Players has helped him find his place on campus. “When I walked out at the end of the first show I was part of and bowed – knowing that I was part of making an entire auditorium full of people smile and clap and have a great night – that was probably one of the best things that I've ever done,” he notes. “I don't know if anything is ever going to top that.”