Bradley's Eric Petersen in New TV Sitcom
Eric Petersen '03 (right) stars in TV Land’s newest sitcom Kirstie which premieres on Dec. 4 at 10/9C.
By Susan Andrews
November 27, 2013
Eric Petersen, a 2003 Bradley graduate, is excited to act alongside veteran TV stars of sitcom classics, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards, in TV Land’s newest sitcom Kirstie.
As thrilled as he is to embark on his new adventure taking him from Broadway to sitcom star, Petersen takes the time to remember and credit the preparation he received while a theatre performance major in Bradley’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts.
A Bradley enthusiast, Petersen finds there is so much to miss about the University. “When I visited campus in the spring to see a friend act in “Kentucky Derby,” I looked out on the quad and saw people playing Frisbee and just having a great time and thought I want to go here.” He readily notes his fondness for the people, the quad, Sigma Nu fraternity, the beautiful Hartmann Center and Peoria, which he considers an idyllic midwestern college city.
“I did not have to wait until my junior year to act on stage,” Petersen said. “My friends who enrolled in conservatory programs in big schools spent their first two years auditioning, rehearsing and learning characters but not performing on the main stage. “When I played Frank in “Our Town” as a freshman, I thought I was hot stuff, but my professors pushed me to be better and more responsible.”
Pivotal to Petersen’s future success was mastering what he considers the biggest skill he learned at Bradley—leading a cast. More than just setting a good example by being on time, leading a cast is infusing your passion for a project to others, selling the show, inspiring the cast to be their best in the artistic experience, and pushing through when rehearsals are not going well.
“I applied what I learned at Bradley while cast as the understudy for Shrek in “Shrek the Musical” on Broadway when I got the call to go on the main stage for the first time,” Petersen said. “I had one rehearsal on stage, sat for make-up once and had a total of six rehearsals, and here I was playing this lead role with big stars including Chris Sieber, Daniel Breaker and Sutton Foster.”
Petersen felt as if he stepped up to the moment. “I literally said to myself, I have done this a million times at Bradley and I can do this,” he recalled. His performance caught the eye of Shrek writer Jeanine Tesori, which led to his casting in the national tour.
His best advice to aspiring actors is saying “yes” to every opportunity to work. “I did children’s theatre tours where I mowed the lawn, built the sets and cleaned the bathrooms,” he offered. “Every chance you have to work in front of an audience to get instant feedback or to network with others is valuable.”
Petersen views Kirstie as among his big breaks made possible by a small role selling Christmas trees in the holiday episode of the highly acclaimed sitcom Modern Family. “My character was not hilarious but the association with a huge show like Modern Family gave me a stamp of approval,” he said.
The stars of Kirstie show no ego on the set, according to Petersen. “We are just four actors trying to create a funny show,” he said. “All three have been very kind to me. Michael Richards has taken me under his wing for which I am grateful for I have always been a big fan of his physical comedy.”
Tune in to TV Land on Dec. 4 to see a double episode premiere of Kirstie 10/9C. Petersen is cast as Arlo Barth the son of a Broadway star [Kirstie Alley], who tries to connect with his birth mother following the death of his adoptive mother. To view promo, go to youtube.com/watch?v=H2gzU1cTZcY