APO Big/Little Reveal

By Jeilianne Vazquez

It’s APO Big/Little Week at GTA! APO stands for Alpha Psi Omega, which is the National Theatre Honor Society, and GTA’s chapter is the Alpha Beta Kappa Cast. APO’s philanthropy is Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which helps men, women, and children across the country receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling, and emergency financial assistance. Learn more at AlphaPsiOmega.org.

For Big/Little Week, GTA student Bigs have been leaving secret gifts and notes for their Littles to get them excited for the reveal today! Everyone enjoys the process (especially me!), and I have reached out to several Bigs who want to leave a message for their Littles and tell us why they love being a part of APO!

BFA Acting major Anna Nowosielski

Why do you love APO?

Anna Nowosielski: APO is a wonderful community, it’s helped me feel closer to people within GTA and it’s so fun to be a part of events!
Emily Starace: I love APO because it is a really amazing community of people who share the same interests. We all strive to be the best that we can be and hype each other up!
Sarah Kay: I love APO for a few reasons, but the first reason that comes to mind is the fact that it’s an organization that has been encouraging theatrical excellence for almost 100 years. To be a part of something that so many actors have taken part in before me is an honor.
Jeilianne Vazquez: APO is a great organization with a beautiful community of people!


BFA Musical Theatre major Emily Starace

Who is your Little and how excited are you about the reveal?

Anna Nowosielski: My Little is the amazing Maddie Watts! I’m so, so excited for the reveal! Ever since I joined APO I’ve been so excited to get a Little and I couldn’t be happier with the one I got!
Emily Starace: My Little is the amazingly talented and brilliant Paris Aguilar! I am super excited for reveal!! I already love her so much and I cannot wait to continue to grow our friendship as Big and Little.
Sarah Kay: My Little is Joshua Daugherty! He actually won’t be at the reveal as far as I know, so I’m a little bummed. He casually mentioned it and I had to hide my disappointment so he wouldn’t know that I’m his Big. Haha.
Jeilianne Vazquez: I have the honor of having two Littles! My twins are Michelle Stover and Brianna Gutierrez! These are two beautiful and talented ladies and I’m so excited to be their Big and for the reveal!


BFA Musical Theatre major Sarah Kay

If your Little is reading this, what message would you like to share?

Anna Nowosielski: I know you’re going to do incredible things, because you’re already killing it. I don’t know you super well, but just from getting to know you this past semester, your kindness and your humor is truly wonderful, I can’t wait to watch you grow in this program!
Emily Starace: Paris, if you are reading this, know that you have my whole heart and I adore you!! You are so sweet and truly a light to everyone you encounter. I am so honored to be your Big! I LOVE YOU!!
Sarah Kay: I am so, so proud to be your Big! I genuinely believe that you will have a big and important impact on theatre, whether it be in writing, directing, acting, or whatever else you choose to do. I haven’t seen you fail in the theatre. Everything you touch is filled with individuality and truth. I have never met anyone so filled with a lust for understanding of the world and how theatre impacts and reflects it. You will do great things.
Jeilianne Vazquez: Michelle, just know I’ve always noticed you! I remember seeing you and thinking, “Whose that pretty, shy girl with the cute glasses and curls?” You reminded me of me, HEHE! I can’t wait to get to know you more and I’m so excited! Brianna, you wonderful being! You are so talented and I loved the time we spent together during Living Out! I’m so happy to be your Big!

BA Theatre major Jeilianne Vazquez

Why should future students consider joining APO?

Anna Nowosielski: The biggest part of APO for me is the sense of community and leadership opportunities it can provide! And now that we’re able to do in person events again, it’s gonna be even more exciting!
Emily Starace: Future students should consider joining APO because it is 1) A TON OF FUN and 2) a really good chance to form bonds with people in the program that you wouldn’t already have. It really is a welcoming community of people and I love knowing and existing with all of these amazing artists.
Sarah Kay: APO is such a fun thing to be a part of. Between cabarets and philanthropy events, there are always ways to pitch in to help the community here.
Jeilianne Vazquez: APO is a great way to bond with your fellow GTA peers and there are so many opportunities! I cannot wait to see what we do this year!

Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Nicko and Brianna

By Jeilianne Vazquez

“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community–and this nation.” –César Chávez

Brianna Gutierrez & Nicko Gonzalez

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, a month honoring and celebrating Hispanic/Latino cultural and historical impact. We end this month’s celebration by getting to know BA Theatre major Nickolas Gonzalez and BA Theatre and Dance major Brianna Gutierrez. GTA audiences may remember Nicko from last year’s GTA New Play Festival, in the short plays Sex Eyes (Daniel), Little Bonnie Blue-Bell (Benny Harper), and Asking for a Friend (Ryan). Audiences will remember Brianna from New Play Festival shorts Sex Eyes (Jailine), The Séance Respond Squad (Sasha), The Cryptic Case of Howard Hart (Mrs. Hart), as well as 2019’s Pippin, and most recently Living Out (Sandra).

What is your current major? What do you hope to do after graduation?

Nicko: I am currently majoring in BA Theatre. My hope after I graduate is to work with theatre in some aspect. I have always had a dream of working professionally whether that is National Tours, Off-Broadway or Broadway but recently I have delivered a new dream. I want to teach theatre to students. I was inspired by my old high school theatre teacher that theatre is more than the recognition or the applause for less than a minute. Theatre changes life and has changed mine for the better. My goal in life is to spread the power of theatre.

Brianna: I am currently a double major pursuing my BA in Dance and Theater. After school, I plan on working on cruise lines, then a few national tours, and then head to Broadway to either choreograph and or be a part of some amazing ensembles.

What does being Hispanic/Latino mean to you?

Nicko: Being Puerto Rican and Cuban gives me a sense of purpose and understanding who I am.

Brianna: For me, being Afro-Latina is very important to me. I lived with my grandparents for a while in some beautiful Latin American countries that are my home and neglect the fact that my family is Latina/o just because of the darkness of my skin is something I did for a long time but do not anymore because I am proud of where I come from and always will be.

Brianna’s family

How has your family and their culture impacted you? Any unique family traditions?

Nicko: I always love hearing new stories from my parents and other relatives on how I got here. The stories never get old! I think the way we live our everyday lives is so different from everyone else. Simple things like greeting everyone in the room with a kiss and making sure the people we care about are okay. Also my family is extremely close. Sometimes a little too close and I’m like, okay now let’s wait a minute. But I also love it at the same time. Some traditions my family conducts are getting together for the holidays, calling each other close to everyday and sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve. There are so many more!

Brianna: I think it has really shaped my determination, work ethic, and my music taste as a performer and choreographer. I feel as though my family was not always blessed to not have to struggle. I grew up watching my grandparents work hard, my parents work even harder, and I feel as though within my industry I have to work even harder than my white counterparts because they can be seen playing any role while I am put into a box that I have to fight to escape.

How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage month? What does it mean to you?

Nicko: In a month like this I think about my grandparents coming to this country to give my parents a better life. My parents spend their lives making my life better and the kindness continues for generations. I spend this time reflecting and celebrating who I am.

Brianna: For me, I enjoy learning more about my own culture but also other countries’ cultures. My family is only from 2 out of so many Latin American countries so this month is a time to reflect, learn, and embrace others and myself. I honestly am glad we have the month because I learn something new every year but I truly wish that we were allowed to be proud of our culture everyday and that it may not define who we are as individual people but our community and traditions overall.

Nicko’s family

How does your family feel about theatre?

Nicko: When I first joined the theatre my family was okay. I have two brothers and ever since they were born have always had a ball in their hands. So my parents thought I would be the same, but (hehe) no. I really enjoy watching the people I care about play sports. I can be a strong fan but nothing else. My first show was Footloose and I played the Reverend (Father of Ariel). After the performance my mom was hollering because my dad and two brothers were crying during scenes. After I heard that I was like, wow. That’s the moment they knew I had a passion for theatre.

Brianna: My family is supportive but I promise it was not always like that. It took a lot of convincing before seeing that I could do this long term. After seeing me in Pippin my freshman year, I will never forget my mom just holding me and saying “I see it now.” She has never wanted me to struggle or have to work hard for things in life but after seeing how much work I have put in to be here and that the passion and love I have for theater is unmatched my whole family came around. I am so excited because for 9 to 5 my grandmother is flying in from Belize to see me perform in a musical for the first time and I am very excited. I lost my grandfather a few months ago and he never got to see me perform and so having her here is just something I hope can make them proud.


What do you love about theatre?

Nicko: I was so lost on what to do in the world but theatre gave me a purpose. I love the way theatre brings people together. Theatre has a goal, but while working towards it you develop new skills, learn new things and form memories to last you forever. At the end you broadcast your hard work to an audience. That audience can be impacted by that production for the rest of their lives. Theatre changes lives and tells stories that need to be told.

Brianna: I love getting to show that if I can do it, you can too. I grew up seeing people like Debbie Allen, Ariana Debose, and so many more women of color get their chance to shine on Broadway. I feel like I want to be that for some little girl. Theater has helped me get through some really dark times but to get here I have had to work super hard. Unfortunately, being a woman of color has worked against me more times than not but my talent and work ethic gets me in the door. Which I want to show, that us women of color can create a seat at the table. Even though we may be consistently uninvited we can for sure show that our work ethic and drive is unmatched. We can change hearts, tell stories, and change the world if we want to through theater.

What is something you want people to know about you?

Nicko: At this moment in my life I am allowing myself to be a student and trying not to plan my future. I have overwhelmed myself in the past trying to determine every moment of my life. Now I am going to allow myself to be a student and become a better artist.

Brianna:I want people to know that being black does not mean that we as individuals are just that. There are many of us with different cultural backgrounds and I encourage those who do not know to look into it. I am grateful that my family has a lot of records to trace back my lineage but I think knowing the truth in where you come from only makes you want to live life to the fullest and embrace the culture, the traditions, and the loves that others might have been discriminated against and/or beaten for.

Five years from now, where do you hope to be?

Nicko: In 5 years I hope to have graduated from Brenau with a BA in Theatre and hopefully working at a school teaching.

Brianna: Not in Georgia. I am just kidding, I honestly want to be working on a Broadway National Tour and be looking to move to NYC. I want to take the next 3 to 5 years to travel while performing because I have not gotten to explore the world in awhile and I just want to do what I love while getting to explore and navigate through different cities and countries.

It’s Fall, Y’all! What GTA Loves About Fall

By Jeilianne Vazquez

Happy October 1st! The official fall month, in my opinion! October is a great month to start off the fall festivities. Though times can be stressful, and we have those midterms approaching, fall has something about it that makes all things clear. Simple and festive! Some things I like to do around the fall time are binge Gilmore Girls, bring out my sweaters, go to a pumpkin patch, go hiking, and anything pumpkin spice (no shame)!

I asked senior BFA Musical Theatre major Allie Hill and sophomore BFA Theatre Design & Technology major Peyton Wehunt some of their favorite things about fall and their traditions!

What do you love to do for the fall season?

Allie Hill

 Allie Hill: Around fall time, there are a few things I absolutely love to do! If there is a record store, a thrift store, and a small coffee shop, I’m there! A perfect fall day to me would be going to the city with my friends, having brunch, and spending all day walking around outside, talking, laughing, and drinking anything pumpkin-flavored. (Basic, I know, but I can’t help myself). I love to go on picnics, photo shoots, and long walks at the park during fall. Any time I can be in nature and surrounded by good music and good people is a perfect day to me.




Peyton Wehunt

Peyton Wehunt: Spend time outdoors! I work in a zipline park and seeing the leaves fall while out on the trails and courses makes me so happy! At work, we have a really big net trampoline way up in the air. We love to rake all the leaves in the middle of the net and take turns jumping into them!





Do you have any fall traditions?

Allie Hill, Grace Deedrick, Abby Hand

Allie Hill: My roommates, Grace Deedrick, Abby Hand, and I have a tradition of decorating the minute it hits September 1st. We always say that we can’t control much in life, but we can control when we decorate for the holidays! We also like to take silly, spooky pictures together, and decorate cookies. When we have the time, we like to watch scary movies together, too! If the school year allows me to make it home for a weekend, I love to paint and/or carve pumpkins with my mom and go antiquing with her and my dad!





Peyton Wehunt: In the fall, my parents and I always go down to Orlando and spend a few days at Disney World! It’s the one time of year that all our work and school schedules line up, so we can spend some quality time together. It was actually on one of these trips many years back that I learned about the Disney College Program. While working at Disney, my love for theatre and creating was reignited and is what made me transfer to GTA!





What is a fall must-have?

Allie Hill: A fall must-have to me is a good pair of platform boots or combat boots! I love how browns and burgundys and blacks look on me, so those are usually my favorite colors to wear. I think having a staple button-down to layer with, and your favorite leather jacket can make any fall outfit elevated! Oh, and also, an iced pumpkin spice dirty chai, because duh.

Peyton Wehunt: I think everyone needs a good group of friends who are willing to do fall activities with them! Last year, my friends and I had a ghost photo shoot outside and had an incredible time doing it! I’m really looking forward to carving pumpkins and making those little ghost sugar cookies with my favorite people this year!





This is your sign to relax and enjoy the cool breeze! Take a walk, get that fall-themed drink, and enjoy the fall because it will be gone before you know it. (I highly encourage you to meet up with some friends and take some cute ghost photos!) Tag us @gainesvilletheatrealliance so we can join in all the fall fun!

“Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.” – Delia Owens