Alumni Spotlight
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Welcome to the NJ Thespians Alumni Spotlight, where we highlight an Alumni who is out doing terrific things in today’s professional world! If interested in being part of our Thespian Spotlight, or want to recommend an alumnus, please contact Jason Wylie at

Melissa Patterson

Melissa Patterson is a senior studying Theatre Tech & Design and Communication Studies at Rowan University.

Her recent credits include stage managing Rowan’s productions of Sweet Charity, Violet of the Garden of Eden, and assistant stage managed The Three Penny Opera, and The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.  She was also the assistant set designer for Bacchae 2.1, and Making Trouble, and scenic charge for Making Trouble and Schoolgirl Figure.  She is currently stage managing the upcoming production of Nine opening in April at Rowan University.


 1. What made you want to pursue a career in technical theatre?

            I have always loved acting, and always will, but after taking my first Stagecraft class at Rowan University, I realized not only did I have a talent for the technical side, but I genuinely enjoyed it.  There’s so much more to theatre than just performing, and I think a lot of people overlook the fact that all of the real magic and spectacle comes from the sets and the lights and the sounds.  Once I saw was goes on in the dark, I could not get enough.  I also believe it is extremely important to be well-rounded and know a little bit of everything about what you do.  Not only does it open a lot of doors for future careers, but it makes you more aware as an actor.


2. What is your best theatre related memory?

            My best theatre related memory comes from my first Thespian Festival.  That weekend was what really convinced me that this was a community I belonged in.  Being awarded a superior rating for my dramatic monologue and seeing my entire troupe, from my freshman year friends, to all of the seniors I looked up to and aspired to be like all year long, stand up and cheer for me gave me a thrill that I will never forget.


3. How did being a thespian in High School shape your career goals?

After spending a semester in college not being involved in any theatre at all, I found myself craving the feelings and passion I felt while being involved in the Thespian Society.  The day of my last final, I went straight to the registrar’s office and signed up for Theatre courses and declared a minor.  From there I became a Theatre Arts major with a Technical concentration.  I aspire to work in the theme park entertainment industry, and have already made a few steps in that direction.


4. Outside of theatre, what’s one thing that you absolutely love to do and why?

            I really love interior decorating.  It’s like taking all of the skills I love from set building and applying them in more concrete, livable spaces.  Lately, I have been working a lot with making pieces from recycled materials, or taking everyday objects and utilizing them in a new way.  I love taking old things and giving them a new life.


5. How has being an NJ STO prepare you for the professional world?

            Being a state officer prepared me in ways I never expected, especially once I made the transition to being a tech.  My area of concentration has been design work and stage managing.  One moment that really stands out to me was at my junior festival when a huge storm hit and the facilities we were using ended up losing power.  As a State Officer candidate, I was expected (with everyone else) to keep everyone calm, and work quickly to re-plan and re-organize the rest of the evening’s events.  This situation of quick thinking and being adaptable is something I use now all of the time.  As a stage manager, you learn very quickly that you need to be prepared for any and every situation that could arise, and that you are the one who has to keep their cool and help the production to go on.