Broadway at Bradley

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
November 21, 2014

Two noted Bradley theatre alumni returned to their old stage haunts to mentor the next generation of aspiring Broadway and Hollywood stars. Memories flooded back as Eric Petersen ’03 and Amro Salama ’93 shared professional wisdom and stories with students during a three-day Hilltop visit.

“This was the perfect place for me to mature out of high school,” Salama said. “The staff mentored and listened to me. I couldn’t ask for a better step to learn so much about theatre.”

Hollywood producer and director Steve Wyman joined the alumni on the visit. Wyman has worked with Bradley students through the Hollywood Semester. The trio met with students in a town hall meeting and in several classes.

Petersen’s credits include the Broadway and first national tour of “Shrek: The Musical,” TVLand series “Kirstie,” CBS series “Big Bang Theory” and the upcoming holiday release “Naughty and Nice.” Salama’s credits include “The Siege” with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis and “Terminator: Sarah Connor,” and NBC series “Chicago PD.”

Both alumni shared how Bradley experiences prepared them for the professional spotlight. Because of countless hours working with stage crews as an undergraduate, Salama frequently finds himself enjoying the company of professional crews. Petersen’s nights in the Meyer Jacobs Theatre spotlight built confidence to shine in his “Shrek: The Musical” Broadway debut.

“I only had five rehearsals to prepare and I was petrified,” he said. “Then I thought it was just like the Hartmann Center. I’ve been center stage and could do it. Broadway felt like something I could accomplish, and this was a huge stepping stone.”

Back on campus for the first time in several years, the alumni took on roles they dreamed about as students. Instead of sitting in lectures with professionals, the men stood in front of classes as sage professionals with wisdom from decades of hard work, fortune and a few missteps.

“I used to sit here in lectures and would say I’d love to be someone invited back to serve the students,” Salama said. “I’ve had enough fumbles in my career that I have lessons to share. I’m grateful for blunders because they catapulted me forward.”

They encouraged students to be humble enough to take smaller roles. Those roles —even “playing a kangaroo on a children’s show,” as Petersen quipped — would build networks and show aspiring actors the full scope of the profession.

Both alumni could attest those little parts form a grand story in pursuit of the Broadway or Hollywood dream. After all, Salama said, “You’re one audition from an Emmy nomination.”