October 26, 2017

All the World’s a Stage

Cover of 'All the World’s a Stage' articleAdelphi theater professors take their acts on the road

One of the greatest strengths of Adelphi’s theater program is its deep-rooted connections to the entertainment world: All faculty members work professionally, advancing their craft and bringing their hands-on experience back to the classroom.

John McDermott, assistant professor, and Nicholas Petron, M.A. ’73, professor and department chair, were two of the department’s standouts this year.

McDermott, who has designed more than 100 productions on stages across the country, received a prestigious 2017 Helen Hayes Award nomination for his work on Sense and Sensibility at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. His imaginative set for the drama—based on the Jane Austen novel— featured scenery on casters and an onstage dressing room for the actors, as well as furniture and props he collected at antique shops on travels through New York and New England. He even found some of the production’s furniture on the street.

Nicholas Petron wearing his own theater makeup.

Nicholas Petron, M.A. ’73 (in stage makeup), earned his master’s degree in theater from Adelphi. He has worked extensively on stage and screen and has appeared in television commercials and voiced characters for children’s shows. On faculty at Adelphi for more than 40 years, Petron has served as chair of the Department of Theatre for the last 25.

“I wanted everything to have a slightly worn look, sort of period, but not specifically of the Regency period,” McDermott told The Folger Spotlight. “Right before I came down here, my small Buick was filled with chandeliers and sconces and mirrors. I looked like a very glittery vagabond.”

Petron’s recent work, on the other hand, is far removed from the world of quiet stages and quaint 19th-century drawing rooms. He was on location in Cleveland for three days in April filming a scene for a new Bruce Willis movie.

“I play an old guy who tries to save a damsel in distress, crashes his car into a Hummer, gets knocked out, then wakes up—only to be shot in the head by bad guys,” he gleefully

Besides demonstrating his acting chops, Petron’s appearance in the film showcases another benefit of Adelphi’s theater program. “Randall Emmett, the film’s producer [who also produced Martin Scorsese’s 2016 film Silence], got me the role,” Petron said. “He was a theater major at Adelphi for just one year in the 1990s, but he never forgot the program. He was back on campus last year when he told me about the film. It just goes to show you how our program provides great contacts that help students—and even faculty members—build their careers.”

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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

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More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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