Erin Stegeman was a theatre student at Stephens College when she dreamed of creating a show that she could bring home and make her alma mater proud.
This weekend, Stegeman returns to Columbia to screen “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera,” a feature-length musical she wrote and directed. She co-produced the film with Ace Marrero, her husband and Stephens alumnus, and Andrea Rutherford, another Stephens graduate, who was Stegeman’s roommate her freshman year.
Stegeman and Marrero also star in the film along with Katie Cofield, another Stephens graduate. All total, 10 Stephens graduates are involved with the production, which airs at 10 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2106, at the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave. Tickets are $15 for the general public and free for Stephens students and alumni.
“It sort of feels like my film because I wrote and directed it,” Stegeman said. “But it also feels like a Stephens film because so many Stephens alumni are involved.”
The film is a parody of the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time,” which is set in a world of fairytale characters. Stegeman’s version brings a little “Rocky Horror Picture Show” to the experience by encouraging audience members to participate in the showing.
Stegeman, a St. Louis native, said she enjoys working with Stephens graduates because they have a strong work ethic and always bring a “good attitude” to the set.
“Talent will only get you so far,” she said. “You have to keep working and have a good attitude. That’s what will get you everywhere.”
On Oct. 27, Stegeman, Marrero and Rutherford led a master class to the Senior Acting Seminar (Nuts and Bolts). They warned students not to expect overnight success.
“I once went on 300 auditions and got one call back,” Rutherford said.
Stegeman said: “Life after college is about finding yourself as an artist, and that takes time.”
Finally, the trio encouraged the students to reach out to Stephens alumni after graduation.
“Not a week goes by that I don’t have contact with someone from Stephens,” Rutherford said.
Stegeman said what’s special about Stephens alumni is they continue to work together long after leaving school.
“You come to realize you can’t do it alone,” she said. “There are no harder workers than Stephens alumni.”
Other Stephens graduates involved with “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera” are Toni Anita Hull, Annie Genteman, Kelsi Simpson, Andrew Nunemacher, Colin Kramer and Erika Hardy.
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