Les Englehart '20 (right) in Florida Southern's production of The Secret Garden.
Mar 4, 2020
Les Englehart is a senior musical theater major from Fort Myers, Florida. Les is graduating in May, so we decided to sit down with him and ask him about his four years at Florida Southern.
What made you choose Florida Southern?
I came to see a production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee during my senior year of high school and it was easily one of the best college productions I had seen. I had some friends attending FSC that I stayed with for the weekend and they were all apart of such a great community. I felt like they knew everybody and everyone that I met was so friendly; that wasn’t something I experienced at any other schools.
Whenever someone asks me about Florida Southern, I always tell them that the community is my favorite aspect. I love being a student here because every day is so much fun. Being able to walk into TuTu’s and have a good laugh with my friends is one of the things I look forward to daily. I also love going to on-campus events like Southern Takeover; it’s easily one of my favorite events of the year. I’m so fortunate that I can be a part of this community and that they love having me.
Can you speak to the collaboration between students and professors?
The theater department is the perfect size — allowing for lots of one-on-one time with the professors. In classes like acting, the faculty make sure to give us the individual attention we need to perfect our pieces. They work closely with each one of us to fine tune the talent that we each came in with. This isn't unique to the theatre faculty though, all of our professors really care about what they are teaching and work with us to make sure we understand the material.
Do you think your professors have done a successful job of getting you prepared for the real world?
When I got to Florida Southern, I was good at what I did but I wasn’t ready for the professional world. This year in particular, I feel so much more confident in my abilities; I’m ready to go out there and do it! My two voice teachers, Professor Brad Vieth and Dr. Christianne Roll, have both helped extensively to prepare me for the professional world. Professor Vieth helped to develop my technique. Together, we worked on aspects like pitch control and breath. Dr. Roll, on the other hand, was a huge help with my emotional and character arcs, as well as coaching me on what the professional world is like. I received a really well-rounded education from both of them.
Have you come across any challenges throughout your four years? How did you overcome them?
Right now, I’m playing Herr Schultz in our production of Cabaret. This is the first dramatic role I’ve had the opportunity to play. It’s been challenging to tap into the character’s emotions. I’m used to playing more comedic and lighter roles, but our director, Scott Cook, has helped me ground myself in this role and in the realistic world of the play. Being able to play this role without making it a caricature has been challenging, but I’ve really enjoyed it.
I enjoy being involved in campus activities, so another challenge has been learning to balance all of my commitments! However, the people I work with are great about helping me to prioritize. I also get a lot of support from my fraternity brothers; they allow me to say no when I need to take a step back and focus on something else that may be more important. Sometimes I have to stay up a little bit too late doing homework, but with support, I’ve been able to keep up my GPA while balancing all the extracurriculars that have made my time at FSC such a memorable experience!
How do you get involved on campus?
I originally found myself getting involved through Studio Box my freshman year; that really got my face out there and people started to recognize me through that. Then I became an RA, joined Greek Life, and SGA. One by one, I’d add something to my “resume” and find myself involved in all these different communities.
With Studio Box, I auditioned for the group my freshman year and got in. I did the math; we usually have about forty people audition and only eight are chosen. So, it’s only a twenty percent acceptance rate. I felt so grateful to be one of the few people chosen. It has been an absolute blast. I get to hang out with my friends three times a week to make jokes and have fun. We also get the chance to learn about comedy and how sketch comedy shows work, like SNL and Second Stage. It’s also a lot of fun to put on shows for the community and the reception we get. I think Scholars Weekend is my favorite, getting to perform in the George Jenkins Field House for all of the incoming freshmen. They’ll come up to me next year and tell me that they came to Florida Southern because they saw the Studio Box show. It’s always rewarding to be able to go to rehearsal and perform with this group; it can always make a bad day great.
I didn’t rush for a fraternity until my sophomore year because I was already a part of a strong community I liked. But, I found a great group of guys in SAE that were so dedicated to philanthropy and involved in the Children’s Miracle Network. They were all so welcoming, open-minded, and supportive. It felt like the best thing in the world to find a group like that. This semester I am the philanthropy chairman, but previously I’ve been the song chairman and the social media chairman.
I’ve been an RA since my sophomore year and it’s been so much fun meeting students, especially when I was an RA in the Spivey freshman dorm. I enjoyed being able to help and guide them. When you’re a freshman, you’re not really sure what to do with this new experience. As an RA, I was able to guide them and it was so rewarding to see them all become more comfortable at FSC.
I’ve also been involved in six of the shows on campus, including our current production of Cabaret. We put each show on in a month. We audition for the fall shows at the beginning of the year and the spring shows right before winter break. We usually start by learning all of the music, so by the time we go to put the show on its feet, we already have the songs memorized. Our rehearsals tend to move at a lighting pace so we have plenty of time to really polish our performances.
What are your plans post-graduation?
Every year, the theater department brings students to SETC. SETC is a mass audition where professional theater companies from across the country look to cast their summer seasons, which opens up a lot of job opportunities. After I graduate, I’ll also be flying to New York City to participate in the senior showcase. We put on a three minute performance package for industry professionals, who will see our work and potentially hire us post-graduation. As for later on, I’d love to move to Chicago to do more comedy. Through Studio Box, I’ve really found a love for sketch comedy and improvisation. My end goal is to be a working actor.
Do you have any advice for incoming students?
Get involved! You get what you put into this experience. I would not be where I am and I wouldn’t know as many people if I hadn’t put myself out there. I definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun either. For theater students, I’d say just be yourself. It’s so easy to try and imitate someone you know, but they want to see you be who you are. Know your limitations; if you know you can’t complete something in an audition, don’t try to do it. They want to see you put your best foot forward.
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