SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Having a place for theatrical performances near a college campus is nothing new, or nothing that seems too special. But, in the case of Syracuse Stage, it is. Syracuse Stage grew alongside the Syracuse University Drama Department thanks to one important man. Arthur Storch.
Storch was an American actor and Broadway director who was brought to the city of Syracuse in 1974. He was asked to come for two roles. The first being to start up a professional stage in the city. The second, to the chair of the Syracuse University Drama Department. So, with Storch being the creative man he was, he found a way to mix the two roles together. Thus creating the Syracuse Stage we know today.
The Syracuse Stage is so unique because, while being a professional place of performance, it includes Syracuse University Drama students in and at its facilities and in some of its performances. These are called co-pros.
A co-pro is when the drama students and actors/actresses both take part on stage and behind the scenes in the performance. One show each year is selected as the co-pro at Syracuse Stage. When trying to choose the show that will be the co-pro they look for a show that, “they would not be able to perform without the bodies and help of the students,” said Joe Whelan.
It is generally a big musical. A massive production that could not be staffed with just the professional actors and actresses. This years show is the world-renowned, Beauty and the Beast. A year ago, they did Elf. Two well known shows. Two shows that have a ton of cast members, and two shows that the audience will definitely know and be even more amplified to come out and see.
The co-pro allows the professionals and students to learn and grow from each other. For the students, they get to see in real life work what it takes to put on a true performance and see it come to life. For the professionals, “the students remind them why they got involved in the business in the first place,” said Joe Whelan. The sense of mystery and lover for theater.
It’s not just a one way street where the pros mentor the students. It’s a mutual relationship that both parties enjoy and appreciate.