Theatre students saddle up with Lone Ranger


Close to a 1000 hopefuls lined up outside the Adams State College Theatre Department on Sunday, March 25, their goal -- to be cast in the upcoming Disney movie, "The Lone Ranger."

The professional casting company, contracted with Disney, arrival on campus became a positive experience for Adams State theatre majors, including Jordan Steigerwalt and Rebecca Fortner. "I learned no matter the task at hand to jump in and be accepting and willing to try," Steigerwalt said. Despite the long day, Steigerwalt said the experience was fun and he enjoyed working with the casting agents. "It was very nice to work with a professional group who knew what they wanted and could easily describe how to get it."

Fortner agreed: "They tried to make the work fun, while maintaining professionalism and quality standards. They gave us just a glimpse of the chaotic environment that can be a major film shoot." She spent the day taking measurements of the auditioners. "Of course, a high level of friendliness was required. Most of the auditioners would ask the same questions."

Steigerwalt's duties included shuttling people to the stage door, making sure they remained in the correct place, helping set up and tear down, and miscellaneous errands. "If a job presented seemed unlikely I learned not to shoot down the suggestion but do what I could to make it happen."

Mary Hoffman, executive director of ASC Community Partnerships, took a lead role in working with the casting company. ASC Community Partnerships works closely with Southern Colorado Film Commission, SoCo, in promoting the company and assisting with projects. Hoffman spent hours on the phone with the company before they arrived on campus, helping to find a location for the casting call, "the Theatre Building was the most ideal and logical choice," and plan the details of the casting call event.

SoCo will work with Disney through the entire filming in the San Luis Valley. Hoffman volunteered to work on the subcommittee for casting. She said they worked through a variety of scenarios, planning for groups of 100 to 2000. "We wanted plans in place so the casting call was a positive experience for everyone."

Hoffman said she is very appreciative of the across campus and community cooperation. Adams State Police Chief Joel Shults was "instrumental" in the planning and his officers worked all day to ensure a smooth process, the Alamosa Police Force helped as well. "Mary Hoffman was very on top of coordinating security and safety issues with my department about the casting call," Shults said. "Whenever you have an extra few hundred or few thousand people on campus, especially when a high profile person may be a part of the event, staffing and planning are critical."

Larry Joe Hunt, Adams State associate athletic director, provided equipment for line control and the Art Department volunteered use of their lobby in case of inclement weather. SoCo volunteers included Rich Ross, Jim Mietz, Phil Chapnick, Jay Young, Bill Werner, Erwin Young, Danny LaDonne, Karl Jolliff and Edgar Thomas.

"The casting crew was so appreciative of ASC Community Partnerships and SoCo's assistance," Hoffman said. "The best part was the theatre students' exposure to a professional company in the industry." After the long day of interviewing, measuring, and instructing acting hopefuls, the casting company took the time to answer all the theatre students' questions about future careers in the industry.

"The casting directors themselves where very amiable and looked out for us all," Fortner said. She had not taken a lunch break and the casting crew noticed. "The crew member ran inside, found someone that had already finished eating to come take my place. It was very sweet and showed a level of professionalism and care for their workers."

ASC Community Partnerships HUD grant requirements include supporting youth finance, economic development, and community organization. "I believe I hit all those marks with this project," Hoffman added.