Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Undecided major chooses a life on the stage

Black finds work in Indiana, Ohio
Philip Black on advantages of theater degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

"If acting is what you really want to do, you can do it. It’s challenging work. You will be stretched. Half the battle is having guts to get up on stage, and from there, you learn. The more you act and apply the course material, the better you hopefully get at it.”

After He came in as an undecided major, but deep down, he had this inkling to audition for the upcoming fall musical. The only problem was he had never performed in a single show his entire life.

The time had come to stand before the director and sing his heart out. The audition was over, and Philip Black couldn’t believe he had just sung with a British accent. He thought for sure his chances were ruined. The directors must have been laughing at him. But to his amazement, he found his name in big, bold letters on the cast list for the upcoming production of “Little Women.”

Black, a 2011 theatre performance major, shined on the Huntington University stage during his four years of college, playing roles in productions such as “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “Picnic,” “The Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls” and many more. With such a small department, Black found opportunities to get involved in every production whether it was as an actor or as the stage manager.

“My favorite role was playing Gaston in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” Black said. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing a show. The big crowds really made the experience exhilarating.”

Black became hooked on acting and decided to pursue a major in theatre through the time he spent in the classroom. His two favorite classes were Beginning Acting and Voice and Movement.

“Learning how to act naturally in front of crowds, body control, breathing — it was these things that fascinated me about acting,” Black said. “I was obsessed by the idea that you could train and improve and learn. It wasn’t just a ‘you have it or you don’t’ type of deal. If acting is what you really want to do, you can do it. It’s challenging work. You will be stretched. Half the battle is having guts to get up on stage, and from there, you learn. The more you act and apply the course material, the better you hopefully get at it.”

Along with having more stage time, Black feels the small atmosphere at HU helped him get to know his professors on a much deeper level.

“I feel closer to Jay Duffer than I think I would have if I had gone to a bigger school,” he said of the department chair of the department. “Not only is he my professor, but I would also consider him to be a friend and a mentor.”

What drew Black to Huntington was the state-of-the-art facilities, including the Merillat Centre for the Arts — the home of Zurcher Auditorium and the black box Studio Theater.

“I still hadn’t picked a major yet, and I remember walking through the MCA and seeing all of the different facilities, so that was enticing,” Black said.

Now that he has graduated, Black said he will mostly miss the family he made during his time at HU. After graduation, Black moved to Newark, Ohio, to act as a professional performer for Weathervane Playhouse where he played Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” the Dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors” and other various roles in Weathervane’s 2011 summer season. After his contract ends, Black plans to work with The Blue Gate Theatre in Shipshewana, Ind., to star in a new musical, “The Confessions.”

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