Herberger Theater provides outlet for student actors, professional experience

By Camden Andl ’19
THE ROUNDUP

The Herberger Theater Center is recognized as one of Phoenix’s finest performance venues, and multiple Brophy student actors often call its stages home.

Spencer Coben ’17 has been acting for around five years, first beginning his career at Rancho Solano Middle School.

Coben, who acted in Valley Youth Theater’s 2016 performance of “Grease,” got the chance to view the Herberger Theater as an actor.

“I saw a show notice about ‘Grease’ over the summer and since I wasn’t very busy, I decided to audition,” Coben said. “It was pretty nerve wracking because the show was through Valley Youth Theater and I had never participated in local theater before.

Sophomore Johnny Robaina ’19 acted at the Herberger through Valley Youth Theater, performing in the show, “The Little Mermaid.”

Robaina has been acting since eighth grade, his first show being a musical version of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” for Valley Youth Theater.

Both Robaina and Coben said that acting at the Herberger has been the most professional acting experience they have had.

“In theater, something that’s worth taking into account is the scale of the production, and the Herberger has a bigger scale than anything else,” Robaina said. “They flew multiple people on wire systems in the show I was in, they have a full piece orchestra, giant elaborate sets and a beautiful auditorium. The atmosphere is so fun and performing there is exhilarating.”

Coben and Robaina said that there are various differences in performing a show at the Herberger versus a Brophy/Xavier production including the way administration handles things as well as the time commitment for rehearsals.

“I think rehearsals for Brophy shows are about two hours a day, five days a week, while Valley Youth Theater’s rehearsals for the Herberger performances were six hours a day, five to six days a week,” Coben said. “And if you think that’s a lot, tech week rehearsal hours were from 10 a.m. to midnight.”

Robaina said there are multiple ways to get involved and to perform at the Herberger Theater.

“The Herberger hosts an acting and singing competition once a year, and Valley Youth Theater also does two Herberger shows per year, one in June and one in July,” Robaina said. “If you audition and get into a VYT show, that’s your chance to act at the Herberger.”

Both actors said they are thankful for the opportunities they received in acting at the Herberger.

“If I had to give any advice to hopeful student actors, I would tell them to try and fully immerse themselves into the character as much as they can,” Coben said. “If there’s not a definite backstory, make one up and really understand who you are and what your intentions are during each scene. It will not only help you, but your fellow actors as well.”

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