Transfer student finds perfect setting in Rider's musical theatre program
Three years ago, aspiring actor Jordan Reeder knew he needed a change of scenery. Lucky for him, he found the perfect setting at Rider University.
The musical theatre major, who grew up in Olathe, Kansas, loves to sing, dance and act. When he was exposed to musicals for the first time after joining a community theater group in middle school, he was thrilled to discover they could all be combined. Recalling the moment, he says, "I was like, ‘You get to act and you get to sing and dance? That’s so awesome!’”
Reeder was hooked. He spent the rest of his high school years performing, earning roles large and small in both community theater and high school productions. By the time he was a senior, he knew that it was something he wanted to try to pursue as a profession.
Reeder anticipated college would allow him to expand upon his stage experiences. He initially chose a school in Chicago, because he liked the location. But he quickly became disappointed when he realized his classes weren't helping him advance his knowledge of his craft.
“I felt like in some of the classes I was just relearning a lot of things and I wanted to be constantly growing and discovering new things, and I just wasn’t finding that,” he says.
Worried that he wasn’t growing as an actor, Reeder transferred to Rider in his sophomore year after learning about the University’s popular musical theatre program from a friend. Each year, more than 600 students across the country audition for a limited number of spots in Rider’s musical theatre, acting and technical theatre programs.
After Reeder enrolled at Rider, Associate Professor Trent Blanton recommended him for his first professional role, playing Peter in a summer stock production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Iowa’s Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. He has also appeared in the Rider productions of Oklahoma! and The Will Rogers Follies.
It was an experience that Reeder was hoping for, one he believes was made possible because of a faculty member's strong connections in the theater world.
After college, Reeder, a junior, hopes to join other graduates from the program that have gone on to careers performing both on and off Broadway, in movies and television series, for cruise lines, and internationally.
“At Rider, my teachers have helped me to grow and they push me so that I can achieve," Reeder says. "I am having to work really hard, and I am grateful for that.”