(WFRV) – Trying to figure out what to do after High School can be difficult for some students. The struggle of college or going straight into a craft can be daunting to figure out.

Thankfully, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC) created a workshop to help answer students’ burning questions and held a Center Stage workshop Wednesday. The speaker? Nathan Salstone, an actor in the touring show of Hadestown.

Nathan Salstone

Students were able to participate in a Zoom call with Salstone, who works as a swing and an understudy for Orpheus in the show. What does it mean to be a swing? A swing is someone who steps into several chorus and/or dancing roles when someone cannot, similar to an understudy of a main character who steps into the role when the other actor/actress cannot perform.

During the workshop, students were able to ask Salstone whatever they had on their mind: “How did it feel to see your dreams manifest?” “How do you keep your authenticity stepping into a role?” “How do you deal with failure?”

Local 5 was able to sit down with a Center Stage Musical Theater Program Ambassador, Samantha Hoefs, after the workshop and ask her what she thought of the experience.

Samantha Hoefs

“I think the main topic that we kept circling around to, through all of our questions, was really – ‘how do we find the confidence to pursue whatever our passion is.’ I know for a lot of us it’s musical theater, but we also talked about our other passions – other instruments that we play,” says Hoefs. “And I think the speaker did a really great job at addressing the importance of being passionate about something and then loving yourself and being secure enough in yourself to have the confidence to go out and show the world what you love.”

Hoef goes on to explain that she is looking forward to everything the Center Stage High School Musical Theatre program has to offer.

“Before COVID, I went to the last in-person workshop that we did here at the PAC and I was so- it was one of the best experiences I ever had. I was so excited to come back for the next one. I told my musical director ‘Sign me up the second that one comes out – I want to go.’ And then, of course, COVID hit so that didn’t happen. So that’s why I was so excited to be an Ambassador this year. I think my favorite part – this year is being involved in the Center Stage Program – is being able to be back and in person and talking to these actors and actresses that have so much wisdom to give to us.”

For Hoefs, she says her favorite memory so far this season would be touring the PAC in the Ambassador workshop and walking through the ensemble dressing rooms. “They just keep going and there are, like, seven that are connected and it was so interesting to be in this labyrinth of dressing rooms and to really take in how many working parts there are in just one musical. And to get that glimpse backstage.”

Students participating in Hadestown workshop

Every student has their reasons for joining Center Stage. Hoefs says hers happened after someone brought up that she might learn a lot out of the experience.

“I have been in my school’s musical, as a cast member, for two years now – I did pit (orchestra pit) my sophomore year,” explains Hoefs. “I was in pit the year that I did that first dance workshop here at the Center. And my Director, she knew that I was into, like, dance and acting and singing and I just didn’t have time to put my all into being a cast member so I was a pit member instead. And she just like, ‘Why don’t you just try this out – see if you like this workshop. I think you’d if you find it interesting.’ And then I was just absolutely hooked. And then after that I knew for sure I had friends that were Ambassadors in the past and I knew for sure I wanted to be involved with that.”

In the end, she says everything she learned on Wednesday will help her outside of the theater in her everyday life.

“I think what resonated with me the most is that – I think we all have in our ideas this plan for our lives and the directions it’s going to go. And it’s usually just like this broad-stroke idea of ‘Oh, I want to go into theater’ or ‘I want to go into law’ or ‘I want to be a teacher.’ But I really like that he pointed out how he integrated his other loves of instrumentation and writing into his career path,” says Hoefs. “So knowing that being a teacher you can still work in all of your other passions – as long as you’re confident in pursuing those specific areas along with your intended career.”

If you are interested in learning about what the Fox Cities PAC has to offer or the Center Stage High School Musical Theater program, click here. For more information on Hadestown performances and ticket prices, click here.