John Cunha Ladies and GentlemenURI Theatre I By Lauren Mazzola
|Right: John Cunha posing with his puppet, Trekkie Monster|
photo by: Ryan Osga
URI Theatre has made the high school-to-college transition easier than Cunha originally thought it would be. He explained how the transition started out great because all freshmen theatre major attend classes together, which made making friends who share similar interests easier.
On top of attending classes with other incoming freshmen, the Majors' Meeting event made Cunha's college adjustment smooth and happy. “On the second week of school, the Theatre Department held a Majors’ Meeting where the freshmen were able meet everyone in the department! I’ve been told that with other majors you may not meet everyone, but with theatre you do. It's wonderful to have such a welcoming and supportive community!”
Cunha was happy to talk about his experiences within the program and his Introduction to Acting course. “So far I've loved studying theatre here at URI. In my Introduction to Acting class, we do so many fun acting exercises and scenes. For one project, each student had to do a scene where they inherited a large sum of money, and then their house caught on fire. It was exhilarating going through such an emotional roller coaster and running across the stage to put out an imaginary fire. That would have to be my favorite experience in class so far.”
By acquiring substantial acting skills within such a short period of time and mixing what he has learned so far with his previous knowledge for the theatre, Cunha was confident enough to try out for the Fall production, Avenue Q – an adult rated show which incorporates humans and puppets acting together. His tryout landed him a title role and the title of, youngest cast member.
As the youngest cast member, Cunha explains it was exciting to be a part of the experienced cast, but that it was a little intimidating at first. “It's funny because at home I did children's theatre and I was the oldest, and now here I'm the baby.” He also explained why he was intimidated at first, “Everybody knew each other, and I was ‘the freshman’ but they were all so welcoming, and I've made so many great new friends that that feeling quickly dissipated.”
Avenue Q has been one of Cunha’s favorite experiences to date, because of his hilarious role as Trekkie Monster – the internet-porn obsessed puppet living on Avenue Q in New York City. “Playing Trekkie Monster is a hoot! Playing this role has been very different for me because I am puppeteering.” The whole production has been a great experience for the hard working freshmen, “I actually just love Avenue Q in general. It's an amazing musical. It's funny, but it's also profound and meaningful. The score is hilarious and heartbreaking, and the cast and crew are all so talented; it is so great to work with them!”
The deeper meaning behind the comical puppet production is another reason why his experiences this year semester have been so positive. “The show can be compared to the adult rated version of Sesame Street; I love this show because it is similar. Sesame Street helps kids transition into school, as does Avenue Q. Similarly, our production is about figuring out what do with your life after school ends. I know it seems like all fun and games, but it's also very philosophical.”
Cunha’s involvement in this semester’s production has excited him for the next four years with URI, and even though it is only Cunha’s first year of college he already has large post-graduate plans for himself that the theatre department has made possible. “The theatre department here is going to help me strengthen my acting abilities. They have an extensive curriculum, such as getting to work backstage to learn all different skills needed to become well versed in the theatre community. Hopefully after URI I will be able to move to LA and do movies and television. I'd love to be in a sitcom like Friends or How I Met Your Mother.”