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In Her Own Spotlight: Music and Theatre Student Follows Her Dreams  

Anna Carpenter performs in Seton Hall Theatre’s production of “Ernest in Love”, April 2018.

Anna Carpenter performs in Seton Hall Theatre’s production of Ernest in Love, April 2018.

At 7 years old, Anna Carpenter stepped into the spotlight during her local theatre's production of Cinderella. Since then, she's crossed various stages countless of times with one goal in mind: telling someone's story through art and music.

Carpenter, a junior Music and Theatre double major from Iowa, knew exactly what she wanted while searching for colleges: a school that wasn't too big, had a Catholic mission and was in close proximity to New York City. The College of Communication and the Arts offered the perfect combination of opportunities to fulfill her goals.

On campus, you'll find Carpenter both on stage and behind the scenes in her roles as an actor in Seton Hall Theatre's main stage productions and the Soprano Section Leader in the Seton Hall Choir. While her calendar is often filled with assignments, rehearsals and events, we asked Carpenter to tell us about her Seton Hall experience and where she thinks the future will lead her.

Before Carnegie Hall Performance

Carpenter and Seton Hall Choir members in front of Carnegie Hall before a performance.

You were introduced to the arts at a young age and developed a passion for the stage. Can you tell us why?

Since I was young, I knew I wanted to perform on Broadway. New York City is the home of so much creativity and I wanted to be a part of that. My experience with my local theatre helped to expose me to the various parts of acting and stage production.

On stage, I love the art of story-telling and making the audience feel what you're feeling. Offstage, I know how to build sets, make costumes and help any way I can.

What drew you to the Music and Theatre majors?

I was excited for the opportunity to double-major early on in my academic career. In classes, we learn the importance of understanding the character you're playing or the piece you're performing. That understanding translates into conveying the emotion to the audience.

Performing in

On stage, Carpenter performs with colleagues in As It is Heaven, February 2017.

One vivid experience I will always remember is seeing how moved the audience was during Seton Hall Theatre's performance of Women of Lockerbie, a story set in Scotland around the bombing of a Pan Am flight. After one particularly emotional scene, the audience was moved tears, I saw it on their faces. That emotional connection and impact surprises me every time.

What about the emotions you feel when you're performing? Is it different?

Before a performance, you're running through a mental checklist in your mind both for you and for others. As a section leader in the Choir, I have to make sure everyone is in the right place, at the right time and doing the right thing. We perform multiple times a year and every event requires planning, coordination and rehearsals; but, it's all worth it when you're on stage.

When we performed Prayer for Peace, I remember being nervous and constantly making sure everything was right. Countless artists and singers had performed on the NJPAC stage before us. As we sung Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the emotions hit me in the middle of the concert. At that moment, we were connected with everyone in front of us. You really take in those moments and savor them – it's a feeling like no other.

Preparing for

Offstage, Carpenter prepares for Seton Hall Theatre’s The Learned Ladies, October 2016.

What do you like best about the arts at Seton Hall?

I'm grateful for the faculty and mentors. My professors helped me realize that I have a gift for dramatic acting. They've helped bring that talent to the surface, growing my skills and experience. I never thought dramatic acting would suit me, but I'm definitely leaning towards a professional career in that area. I'm grateful to the college – there are seemingly endless opportunities to grow.

As long as you are open to participating, there is always a chance to sing, perform or act whether it's in Theatre, Choir or even Theatre Council.

As you get involved, you also learn we have a strong, close-knit community of artists. It's easy to find where you fit in. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities with event planning – both on a large and small scale. We're constantly working together to eagerly support one another.

Carpenter will perform in Seton Hall Theatre's final production of the season, Ernest in Love, a story of romance, mistaken identities and eccentric characters that can only be found in a Victorian romance. Adapted from Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Ernest," performances will be held on April 19, 20, and 21 at 8 p.m. and April 22 at 2 p.m., all at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

For more information about the Music program within the College, please contact Dr. Jason Tramm at For more information about the Theatre program, please contact Peter Reader at

The author of this feature, Olivia Lason, is a Public Relations alum from the College of Communication and the Arts, currently working toward an M.A. in Public Relations.

Categories: Arts and Culture

For more information, please contact:

  • Danielle Clements
  • (973) 275-4831
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