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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

“ZACH’s crawling with Bobcats”: students and alumni cross at nearby production

Sophie Pickerrell

On April 3, ZACH Theatre opened its doors to the first night of The Prom. The production is about four washed-up Broadway stars who want to improve their image by rallying behind a teen who wants to take her girlfriend to prom.

Some people on the stage and off the stage have a connection with Texas State University. Three people who play different parts in the production look back at the time they met former and current Bobcats prior to the opening night of The Prom and how the encounter helped them realize.

Gabriel Bernal

Musical theatre alumnus Gabriel Bernal poses for a headshot, June 2023, in Brooklyn, New York. Photo courtesy of Jovani Demetrie.

While attending Texas State, Gabriel Bernal, who plays Trent Oliver and is a musical theatre alumnus, went to shows at ZACH and enjoyed the talent. After graduating in 2015, he lived in New York for almost nine years, working at regional theaters. One of his professors contacted him about auditioning for a role in The Prom.

After the first read-through, two current students introduced themselves to Bernal. It reminded him of when the musical theater program was newer ten years ago and his peers helping to build it up to what it is today.

“It was very cool to see these two young Bobcats in rehearsal with me, representing my friends and all of us that graduated a long time ago,” Bernal said.

The students maintaining their humility and grace no matter how competitive and successful the school became as a name made Bernal proud. He was also impressed by their confidence in their abilities, compared to how Bernal had yet to conceptualize that he was his brand when he was in their position.

“It was beautiful to see these 20- and 21-year-old people just very confident in claiming the things that they want for their life,” Bernal said. “Their dreams are big, and they’re fully capable of them. They wear their pride and courage very naturally.”

Gabby Carney

Technical production alumna Gabby Carney poses for a photo, April 2023, in front of the Theatre Center. Photo courtesy of Rebeka Perales.

Gabby Carney, an assistant stage manager, was a stage manager for a few Texas State productions. She graduated in May 2023 in technical production and spent the following summer as a stage management intern at ZACH, where she started working once the internship ended.

Since then, Carney crossed paths with different Bobcats, including her stage management advisor from when she attended Texas State. Even with The Prom, she had not known Bernal was a Bobcat until partway into the rehearsal process.

“I like to say, ‘ZACH’s crawling with Bobcats’ because there’s a lot of Bobcats that work in Texas State,” Carney said.

Carney said she finds it comforting that they all came from the same place and environment. Even though she works backstage and cannot always talk to actors, she appreciates their small talk moments.

“Everybody was able to get along with each other so well that it didn’t even really matter if they came from Texas State or not,” Carney said.

Eric Shawn

Musical theatre junior Eric Shawn poses for a photo during the afterparty at Pride Night, Thursday, April 4, 2024, at ZACH Theatre. Photo courtesy of Monica Willis.

Eric Shawn, adult ensemble member and a musical theatre junior, acted in and helped choreograph some productions and cabarets at Texas State. His professor asked him if he was interested in being in The Prom. He heard of ZACH and knew many of his friends worked there but did not know what kind of organization it was until he went.

“You have more opportunity to explore [at Texas State],” Shawn said “[With ZACH], you could explore your characters on stage, but it’s more so you’re working rather than learning how to work.”

Shawn said that since many people worked at ZACH in the past, the experience felt like being welcomed into a new family as they showed him how to navigate the area. He met many people who went to Texas State, either in the past or currently, and even reconnected with one who graduated last year.

“It’s a lot of Texas State Bobcats at the ZACH Theatre, which makes it feel even more like home,” Shawn said. “When you know people, you don’t feel like an outsider, and it’s also a blessing.”

ZACH Theatre is in Butler Shores at Town Lake in Austin. The Prom runs from April 3 to May 12, 2024. To see more of ZACH Theatre and its productions, visit https://www.zachtheatre.org/.

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