Trevor St. John-Gilbert, University of Michigan Class of 2013, has been selected the recipient of the Actors' Equity Association/Alan Eisenberg Award Scholarship. He is the seventh graduating student to receive the award, which was created by former Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg, an alumnus of the school. The award, in the amount of $5,000, is given to a graduating senior in the University's Musical Theatre Program.
Born in Virginia Beach, Trevor grew up just outside of Dallas, Texas. He says he got the acting bug when he was in middle school. "I was moaning and groaning to my mom one day about how I wasn't good at anything she suggested I try the theatre. I signed up for a theatre class at school and enjoyed it, but it wasn't until English class that I knew I had the bug. I would do impressions and funny "bits" and everyone loved it. Getting that pretty girl to laugh - that was when I was hooked.
What was the first show you saw?
The first show I saw that I remember being affected by in a major way was Wicked. I got a chance to see it in Chicago and nothing was the same after. The music, the story and the spectacle was mind blowing for me. I remember being in awe of just being in the theatre. It was truly a magical experience.
What was your first acting job or experience?
My first show was the musical Grease. I had a blast doing it. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school, I was super nervous because I hadn't done a real show before, much less a musical and I didn't know what to expect. I was in the ensemble but I hadn't done any singing or dancing so I was learning everything on the fly. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. One funny memory I have from that show is not being able to get to sleep one night because the lyrics to "We Go Together" kept running through my head! All the "rama-lama-lama's" and the "wop-bam-booms" - it took me forever to learn them and now I'm sure I'll never forget them.
At U/M, what aspect of your training do you feel has been most beneficial ?
The nurturing and uplifting environment at UM is the reason why I am the performer I am today. This is such a hard field for so many reasons and the Head of the Musical Theatre Department, Brent Wagner, knows that. He has worked hard to bring together a family of incredibly talented artists who are committed to seeing each other succeed. He also realizes that UM is a school and should be treated as such. UM does a great job of protecting us from the pressures of the professional world while we're in school until each individual is ready to face those pressures head on. The technical training is amazing and the students and faculty are unparalleled but it's the environment of positive criticism, loving affirmation, and honest vulnerability that allow us as students to feel safe to explore and grow as much as we do.
What has been your favorite role thus far? What roles would you like to play in the future?
My favorite role so far has been George in Sunday in the Park with George. I was so blessed to play this role my senior year at UM. It was even more of a blessing to be directed by Mark Madama, and music directed by Cynthia Kortman Westphal and Alexander Gemignani. George was incredibly challenging, in fact, the most challenging role I've ever played. It's a marathon vocally, you hardly ever leave the stage, and you have the wonderful challenge of playing two different Georges over the course of one night. It was such a treat to do and I miss it so much.
There are a lot of roles I'd love to play in the future. Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Fiyero in Wicked, and Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys are all roles that I would be overjoyed to play. Eventually when I'm older I want to play Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, or if I could learn the guitar I would love to play Guy in Once. I'm also interested in originating roles and doing some new plays, television and film in addition to musical theatre.
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to say thank you so much to Alan Eisenberg for creating this award. It has meant so much to me and my family. I'm so blessed to have received it.