Backstage: Spirit of a Nation Alumni Return

Get to know us in our Backstage at CCPA blog. Contributors are students, faculty, and members of our community. 
Communications Officer Dorothy Eggenberger interviews visiting alumni, Onegin stars. 


One of the fabulous facets of my job is sitting in on student activities. Popping into a tap class to record a video, sitting in on a jazz masterclass, hashing out social media marketing plans with our Company C students… it’s all in a day’s work! Last week I joined the students at one of our alumni lunchtime chats.

I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger. That’s the idea behind our alumni lunchtime chats. CCPA grads make their way back to the college to brown bag it with our current students. They talk about life after CCPA, giving the insider scoop on building your career in the performing arts. The talk is followed by a Q&A. This year we’ve had visits from Joel SturrockAlison MacDonald, and Joel Bernbaum. Last week Alessandro Juliani and Josh Epstein popped in for a chat.


Spirit of a Nation

Before the Canadian College of Performing Arts, there was Spirit of a Nation. Jacques Lemay and Janis Dunning created the youth ambassador and job training program back in the early 1990’s. They hired 30 students from across Canada each year to perform a new Canadian work that celebrated our land, cultures, history, and our future. Alessandro Juliani and Josh Epstein are alumni of that program.

Alessandro and Josh were in town for Onegin, an acclaimed new musical about trying not to fall in love. The show is based on the poem by Pushkin and the opera by Tchaikovsky. The alumni star as Evgeni Onegin and Vladimir Lensky, respectively. The musical ran at the Belfry Theatre Oct. 17 to Nov. 12.

Onegin – Trailer from Belfry Theatre on Vimeo.

I saw Onegin on the preview night and loved it! Imagine my delight when I see Alessandro and Josh chatting to Jacques in the office on my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Missed it? You can catch it in Vancouver at the Arts Club Nov. 23 to Dec. 31.



As the students filed out of the studio I nabbed our two alumni for a quick Backstage at CCPA Q&A. My question: if you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Alessandro: It’s just a skit. It’s really easy as a young person to obsess and put all of your focus and all of your energy into this one thing: your career or audition or etc. It’s so important to be able to let it go and be a human being in the world with varied interests. If you’re in a play or a rehearsal and it’s not working and you can’t hit that note or you can’t nail that spin… remember: it’s just a skit.

Josh: Patience. Everybody has a different path. Invest in what makes you most excited at the time. You can always switch! Just keep doing the things that you’re inspired to do.


All in the family

I graduated from CCPA in 2012. I remember my first Career Management class in which our instructor asked us to look around the room at our classmates, saying “these are your contacts, this is your network”. Now, I’ve heard that speech more than once, quite a few times during the 4th year of my Bachelor in Marketing. But the case is true for CCPA. Alumni continue to come back to reconnect with the faculty and administration, as well as their fellow alums. The small class sizes and emphasis on performance opportunities alongside advanced conservatory style training produces not only talented artists, but also a close-knit community.