Meet the Apprentices

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Meet the Apprentices

By Jamie Brewer, Marketing Apprentice

The 2017-2018 season apprentices have arrived. Some are fresh out of college, some are more seasoned, but all of them have the same passion and devotion to theatre.

Hartford Stage continues on its long-standing commitment to education with its apprenticeship program. Every year, 12 early-career professionals are chosen from around the country to spend a season learning from the Hartford Stage staff. Each apprentice is placed into the department of their choice where they gain hands-on experience and one-on-one instruction from the staff. Apprentices leave the nine-month-long program with an abundance of applicable skills, close relationships with the staff and opportunity to advance their careers.

On top of day-to-day jobs in their respective departments, the apprentices expand their knowledge of theatre with seminars in different departments, luncheons with senior staff and a networking trip to New York City.

So who are these feverish learners and theatre enthusiasts new to Hartford Stage? We found out what makes them excited to be here.

Ashley Mikel—Arts Administration Apprentice

Ashley MikelAshley is a native Midwesterner with a love of cows and a passion for theatre. Since her first theatrical experience at Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Ashley knew she was destined to work in theatre. She loves the magic of the stage and seeing a show to fruition.

Skye Robinson-Hillis—Artistic Apprentice

Skye Robinson-HillisSkye’s first theatre experience at age 11 was Cats on the West End in London. She’d be unashamed to say she cried uncontrollably. Years later, after realizing she was not qualified to be an actor, she saw a show directed by Anna Shapiro in Chicago. She took notice of what a director does and what role they have in a production. From that point on, Skye was determined to become a theatre director.

Will Steinberger—Artistic Apprentice

Will SteinbergerWill’s friends describe him as old. Will is the second artistic apprentice who wants a chance to work with and learn from the incredible line-up of artists working on the 2017-2018 season. Will credits Shari Lewis and Lambchop for his introduction to theatre, but is inspired by theatre that pushes the relationship between performers and audience. He continues his career as a theatre director with hopes that someday he’ll meet Lambchop.

Kelsey VonderHarr—Costumes Apprentice

Kelsey VonderHarrKelsey’s first introduction to theatre was at 8 years old. She returned home from a trip to England mesmerized by a production of Les Miserables she saw on the West End. Her friends never stopped hearing her sing the quickly memorized “Lovely Ladies.” To Kelsey, theatre is a space where minds create and meet. She loves that theatre gives you an immediate response and that it has allowed her to travel in her career

Nicholas Denninger—Development Apprentice

Nicholas DenningerGrowing up, Nicholas loved the theatre more than sports or other activities. He loved the idea of forgetting his problems and inserting himself into a character’s struggles. He went to college without theatre in mind as a career and was unsure where he would land post-college. He stumbled upon theatre development in a previous internship and realized he would pursue it as an early career. Nicholas said he also wouldn’t mind keeping acting in his realm of career choices.

Sara Berliner—Education Apprentice

Sara BerlinerEvery time Sara teaches she feels, “fulfilled, energized, and wanting more.” That’s why an apprenticeship with Hartford Stage’s Education Department was her first choice amongst the many apprenticeships in which she applied. She wanted to be given responsibility to teach but have room to learn. To Sara, a well-taught lesson makes her feel like she’s flying. Her passion for teaching runs deep, as does her love for non-profit management. A spreadsheet, Sara said, makes her sincerely excited.

Julia Paolina—Education Apprentice

Julia PaolinaJulia works in theatre with the belief that it can change the world. She has a passion for helping children use theatre as a tool to encourage empathy and community building. When deciding her next step after college, Julia chose to work at Hartford Stage for its incredible national reputation, well-established apprentice program and excellent education department.

Andy LiDestri—Electrics Apprentice

Andy LiDestriAndy works in lighting to “explore how you [can] evoke emotion with something intangible.” Lighting isn’t like costume or set design; it is more abstract, Andy said. For that reason Andy loves to experiment with it. He hopes his work in electrics will allow him to continue to collaborate with artists from different backgrounds and experiences, with the hope to tell important stories.

Jamie Brewer—Marketing & Communications Apprentice

Jamie BrewerAt 5 years old, Jamie used to live to catch parts of Annie on television. She was in awe of the showmanship of musicals. Soon she got to play an orphan in her elementary school’s production of the musical. She was hooked. The idea of being part of something larger than her, the community involved in putting on a show and the artistry all kept Jamie involved in theatre. As a Journalism major in college with communication skills and a passion for creativity, theatre marketing and communications seemed to be the perfect fit.

Morgan Spann—Company/Production Management

Morgan SpannMorgan loves theatre for its comfort, community and compassion. She loves that theatre offers a space for artists to collectively experiment and support each other. That is why when she found company management she was enamored.  Her determination and enthusiasm make her the perfect fit for a career in company/production management, so when she found a position at Hartford Stage where she could learn more about it, she was ecstatic.

Nicole Hittner—Properties Apprentice

Nicole HittnerNicole is described as the “artsy” one by her friends—and that description rings true. As a props apprentice, she loves creating objects that may not normally exist and watch them come to life on stage. Her props have been sent to Broadway and Saturday Night Live but she is most excited to be at Hartford Stage to gain more knowledge and training in her field.

Erica Felton—Technical/Scenic Apprentice

Erica FeltonErica likes to get her hands dirty—the use of power tools combined with artistic creativity is part of the reason she loves technical theatre and scenic design. She enjoys the process of creating a set for a show and appreciates theatre’s sense of comradery. An apprenticeship with Hartford Stage means a chance for her to further her technical education.

Have a Facebook Page? Log on and ‘LIKE’ the Hartford Stage Apprentices Page to follow our journeys and get a sneak peek into the daily life of a Hartford Stage Apprentice. To learn more about job descriptions of each department in the Apprentice Program at Hartford Stage or to apply, visit