Amanda Urteaga & Nichalas Parker
Two Membership Candidates are Recognized with the Roger Sturtevant Award
Equity Membership Candidates Amanda Hartley Urteaga and Nichalas Parker were awarded with the Equity Foundation’s 11th annual Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award. Named for the beloved casting director who passed away in 2003, this award is given to EMCs who have demonstrated outstanding abilities in the field of musical theater.
Urteaga is a recent Joseph Jefferson Award winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in The Robber Bridegroomat the Griffin Theatre Company in Chicago, including being honored with having one of the top five best female performances by Chicago’s Newcitystage.com. Parker, a six-foot-four baritone, was part of the apprenticeship program at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia – one of only four actors selected from over 500 applications – where he has been seen in productions such as I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; A Christmas Carol, and, upcoming, Memphis.
How does it feel to win the Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award?
Urteaga: I am so happy to receive this award. I just played Grandma in a fabulous sit-down production ofThe Addams Family at the Mercury Theater in Chicago, and to win this honor right after we closed was very exciting indeed.
Parker: Quite unexpected to tell the truth. It was one of those things where you submit for something and, after a while, you think they forget about you or you'll forget you submitted. Then you get a call saying you got it and it's a pleasant surprise. I do feel very blessed for this opportunity.
What prompted you to be a performer?
Urteaga: I have been a stage performer since I was 16 in different varieties of performance, from a magician's assistant to a burlesque dancer. I hold a bachelor’s in theater from Rhode Island College (my home state) and an MFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. I've always wanted to be a performer. I blame my big family back home in Rhode Island; the Hartleys love to be entertained. I've always felt closest to God while onstage, so I figured that performing was a calling for me. I'm most at home singing and playing funny characters who are kind of crazy.
Parker: Since I was a kid, I've always loved to perform for my family. But honestly, I was torn between performing and playing football in middle school – I figured I would get back into football when I got to high school. I ended up going to an arts high school as a vocal major and haven't stopped performing since.
Tell us about the very first show with which you were involved.
Urteaga: The very first role I performed was Wendy in the musical Peter Pan in kindergarten back in Rhode Island.
Parker: In elementary school I was in Guys and Dolls and played Lt. Brannigan. I had so much fun that the next year I auditioned for Fiddler on the Roof and landed the role of Tevye.
What does becoming an Equity member mean to you?
Urteaga: My husband and I just had a baby last year, and I'm very excited about joining Equity so that I can earn a better living to support my little girl – and hopefully be an inspiration for her to follow her own dreams.
Parker: Being a part of this union gives me some sense of stability and support. In a profession where you're constantly motivating yourself and others, it's still nice to know that no matter what job you do, Equity is there.
If you had you druthers, what two dream roles would you play?
Urteaga: I have lots of dream roles. I'd love to play Martha in The Secret Garden and Sara Jane Moore in Assassins (to name a couple). I do plays as well as musicals, and I'd love to work at Steppenwolf someday. I'm very proud to be a Chicago actor; we have a fierce community of artists here
Parker: I would have to say Porgy from Porgy and Bess and Franz Liebkind from The Producers.
What’s next for you?
Urteaga: I'm up for a couple of roles right now; I'm auditioning and I also just started a new serving job so I can buy a car in a few months. That way I can work in theaters all over Chicagoland easily. It's all about the planning. I'm in this for the long haul.
Parker: I'm starting my second half of the co-production ofMemphis with the Walnut Street Theatre. We just got back from Vero Beach, Florida for the first half.
The Roger Sturtevant Award consists of a certificate accompanied by a $1,000 check.