Theater alumna turns professional

Performing under the lights of a professional stage is usually the end goal for theater students, however, only a select few have what it takes. For some California Baptist University alumni, that goal is achieved.

Whether staying local or making the big move to New York City, performing in professional productions is seen as glamorous, but the road to the stage is a demanding one. The start of an actor may not be as put together as it seems, instead requiring endurance for long days and nights and possibly uncomfortable sleeping quarters.

Ashley Setzler, California Baptist University alumna and graduate student of the educational theater program at New York University, describes the adjustment as difficult, yet
rewarding.

“I moved to New York three years ago with only two suitcases and a kind stranger’s couch to sleep on,” Setzler said.

Photo courtesy of CBU Theater Program Ashley Setzler, alumna, took the stage of the Wallace Theatre as Penny Sycamore in the 2013 production of “You Can’t Take It With You.”
Photo courtesy of CBU Theater Program
Ashley Setzler, alumna, took the stage of the Wallace Theatre as Penny Sycamore in the 2013 production of “You Can’t Take It With You.”

“Figuring out how to assimilate into a completely new culture presented its challenges, like working 14-hour days for months straight, finding friends (and) braving my first East Coast winter, but after three years, I finally feel like this is more like home.”

With this being her first semester at NYU, Setzler is already making a name for herself. As a member of the Magis Theatre Company, she is furthering her training in the art and will be premiering in “Life Is a Dream,” portraying Rosaura, in February 2017.

“This is a big deal for me because it is my first production here in NYC, and I couldn’t be more excited,” Setzler said.

With a promising future in front of her, Setzler credits CBU for equipping her with the skills she needs to perform in the professional realm.

“All of my professors and instructors at CBU were invested in me and my art,” Setzler said. “I was allowed to play and explore what specific areas of theater interested me
the most.”

Thanks to dedicated professors and programs that are built to mold students into well-rounded performers, participants within the theater arts program have the
chance to make it to the Broadway stage.

“CBU theater began to shape who I was as an artist,” Setzler said. “The world is so much bigger than Wallace Theatre or the couple-block radius of campus, but I was able to grow in ways that other larger, more competitive theater programs couldn’t offer me.”

During her time at CBU, Setzler made relationships with the theater staff. Mandy Hyde, office manager for the theater arts program, quickly bonded with Setzler when she started the program.

“I met Ashley when she started here,” Hyde said. “She just became one of those students that was always here and always involved.”

Setzler had a resume full of impressive performances, but Hyde agrees her role in “You Can’t Take It With You” as Penny was the role when Hyde knew she was special.

Like other students who went professional, Setzler has the most important characteristic, drive.

“Those students who move on to New York, or go to LA, they all have the drive to go on further,” Hyde said.

About Hannah Preston

A&E Editor

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