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Theatre UT Alumni Share Life After Graduation

Photo courtesy of Crawford Long


Whether it be four years from now or eight months away, there will come a time when UT students graduate and enter the dreaded real world. For three UT alumni, life after walking across the stage turned out to be an adventure and exploration into the theater world.

Former theatre major Zachary Hines ‘11 and previous performing arts majors Billy Masuck ‘10 and Erin Dickerson ‘13 will be acting in the new Stageworks Theatre production, Psycho Beach Party. They are set to make their debut on the Stageworks stage throughout October, standing alongside fellow professional actors and actresses.

Psycho Beach Party is a comedic play that follows main character, Chicklet Forrest (Hines), a girl with Multiple Personality Disorder trying to learn how to surf. The play was written by actor, female impersonator and playwright, Charles Busch. UT may also recognize him for writing Die, Mommie, Die! which came to Falk Theater when Hines was a student at UT.

It’s been six years since Hines starred in Die, Mommie, Die! at UT. Now he is starring in Psycho Beach Party, another Charles Busch camp classic.

“I think that the audience should just be prepared to laugh and escape for two hours into this absurd and colorful world we are creating,” Hines said,

Since graduating from UT, Hines stayed in Tampa to continue working in the theater industry. He has continued to act in local theaters, producing his own cabaret and winning four Best of the Bay Awards. He was also named one of the top 20 most promising young artists 25 and under by Creative Loafing in 2013. His experiences and education at UT helped him to prepare for the theater world away from campus, according to Hines.

“I would say what I am most grateful for, in regards to my education, is that the UT speech, theatre, and dance faculty took the time to understand who I am as a performer, what my perspective is, and how to best guide me to successfully pursue my own individual interests,” Hines said.

The department of speech, theatre and dance faculty offer a welcoming environment that encourages students to put forth their best work, according to Billy Masuck. Masuck has taken what he learned from UT to continue acting in successful productions like 1776, The Little Mermaid, and Spamalot.

Masuck has also directed and choreographed productions for high schools and is currently working on Boca Ciega High School’s production of Into the Woods, which will open in November. Since graduating, he has also started his own company dedicated to inspiring people with disabilities to perform and allow them to explore technical aspects of theater.

Masuck has helped people with disabilities act in productions such as Carousel and Miss Saigon and work backstage building, painting and setting up lighting.

“It is really nice to get [people with disabilities] involved and watch them come alive and happy through the wonderful world of theatre,” Masuck said.

To be working alongside professionals in Tampa’s theater industry, Masuck is excited to be making his debut performance at Stageworks Theatre in Psycho Beach Party as The Great Kanaka, a surfing guru. Stageworks has made themselves known in theater and continue to exemplify the professional setting that so many actors in the area love, according to Masuck.

“They [Stageworks Theatre] have made a fantastic name for themselves in the state and I have always wanted to work for them,” Masuck said. “They have been nothing but professional and have gathered some wonderful talent from the area, some drive all the way from Orlando to do this show.”

Not only will this be a debut at Stageworks Theatre for Erin Dickerson, but Psycho Beach Party will be her first performance since graduating from UT. She took a year long hiatus to focus on traveling, which included a solo backpacking trip across Europe. Since the end of her trip, Dickerson has been working and auditioning full time to secure her first performance.

Now she is taking on the Stageworks production as her character Dee Dee, which Dickerson describes as a “charming, but ditzy beach girl.”  All of the preparations and opportunities she took advantage of at UT are coming to good use in the post-graduation theater environment and she is learning a lot about the industry, Dickerson said.

“One big thing that I have learned about the theatre world since college is that you really have to be prepared to hear ‘No,’” Dickerson said. “To so many people, hearing that word over and over again can be extremely discouraging.”

Dickerson’s positive outlook when going through the audition process is what keeps her motivated to continue searching for her next opportunities and not let the discouragement cloud her love for performing.

“It’s easy to lose yourself in this business, always taking on other characters and embodying roles so different from yourself,” Dickerson said. “I always try and remember who I am and why I am and it helps guide me through the acting process with grace and confidence.”

You can catch Hines, Masuck and Dickerson in Psycho Beach Party at Stageworks Theatre starting Oct. 6 on the shows Preview Night at 8 p.m. Various dates for the performances throughout October can be found on Ticket prices range from $15-40.

Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at

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