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Arts & Culture

Alum thrust onto stage in national ‘Wicked’ tour

Jaime Rosenstein ’10 MFA’13 plays role of Nessarose in hit Broadway musical

Staff Writer
Friday, January 24, 2014

On an April Tuesday last year, Jaime Rosenstein ’10 MFA’13 received a call that she had landed the role of Nessarose in the national tour of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked.” Two days later, her bags were packed and she was headed to Dallas.

The trajectory of Rosenstein’s final months as an MFA student  was “extremely unusual,” said Brian McEleney, head of the Brown/Trinity MFA Program in Acting, adding that while graduates of the program often get a “very positive response,” few immediately secure a job.

But there is no such thing as a “typical career” in theater, McEleney added.

Though Rosenstein said she was “terrified” at first, the call from “Wicked” was ultimately “the greatest thing that had happened to me ever.”

Rosenstein packed up her entire life in two days and headed to Dallas. Upon arrival, she was immediately engaged in what she described as an “insane and very intense” two-week-long rehearsal schedule to learn all her parts — one of the shortest rehearsal periods the show has ever had, she said. At the end of the rehearsal period, Rosenstein  played her role in a “put-in,” or full dress rehearsal, before performing as Nessarose in front of an audience, she said.

Rosenstein said she was attracted to the role because Nessarose is something of an outcast. Everyone growing up has felt a little “out of sorts, out of place,” she said.

Inspired by her actress-singer mother, Rosenstein first got into acting when she was a young girl living in New York. But she learned everything from her time at Brown, she said. Rosenstein referred to Lowry Marshall, professor of theater, speech and dance and one of her instructors during her undergraduate years, as “the one who helped me start to understand what acting was.”

Marshall said she was able to watch Rosenstein “blossom”  as she developed from an undergraduate primarily trained in singing into a mature actress.

Rosenstein is also well-remembered by individuals from her MFA program.

“She became like our darling in some ways,” said Aubrey Snowden MFA’13, who completed her master’s in directing at the same time that Rosenstein was in the acting program. Because Rosenstein missed Commencement while on the road with “Wicked,” the whole class got together at graduation and video-chatted with her on Skype, Snowden said.

Snowden said she enjoyed being able to develop with Rosenstein, adding that she cried from happiness when she found out Rosenstein was part of a national tour.

McEleney said he had the opportunity to see “Wicked” when the show came through Providence, and Rosenstein’s performance impressed him. He added that he was able to see his former student grow in “confidence, strength and stamina.”

Nine months later and no longer a newcomer to the show, Rosenstein described the cast — a mix of Broadway veterans and actors just starting out — as “incredible.”

Rosenstein, who will be finishing her time with the show in about a week, said she found bringing her own truth to the show to be the most fulfilling aspect of the experience. She will be moving to New York for a role in the concert version of the musical “Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” opening March 5 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

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