Montclair State Theatre Alumni Make Their Mark

What do Kevin Carolan, currently on Broadway in the musical Newsies, and Edward Gero, who recently completed a seven-week run in Washington, DC as artist Mark Rothko in the play Red, have in common?

Both are proud alumni of Montclair State University.

Carolan, who graduated in 1990 with a BA in Theatre/Film Studies, is doing what one reviewer described as a “bully” of a job as Theodore Roosevelt in Newsies, which is based on the real-life New York newsboy strike of 1899.

“I’m in the penultimate scene,” he says. “The strike is resolved and Teddy makes a wonderful speech about how the future is in the hands of the younger generation. Everyone goes home happy.”

Carolan credits the practical training he received at Montclair State for preparing him for a lifelong career as an actor whose credits span theater, film, and television. “I remember taking an acting class for television commercials, which was really instructive because that’s where I first started to make a little money,” says Carolan, who lives in Linden, New Jersey.

Television sitcoms are his favorite medium, he says, because “you get the exposure from television and a chance to work in front of a live audience. I like the audience response and I enjoy getting a laugh.” He has fond memories of the day he spent in 2002 with Mel Brooks and his wife, the late Anne Bancroft, on the set of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where he played a bartender who served them drinks. “That was a real treat,” he adds.

An established Shakespearean actor and the winner of four Helen Hayes awards, Gero, who graduated cum laude in 1976 with a BA in Speech and Theatre, has also branched out into contemporary plays. He garnered rave reviews in The Washington Post, among other publications, for his portrayal of Rothko, who finds himself torn between art and commerce over a painting commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. “When I read the play two years ago, I thought it was the smartest play I’d read in decades, very intelligent,” he says.

Based in Bethesda, Maryland, Gero is passing on what he’s learned about acting to today’s students as an associate professor of theatre at George Mason University in Virginia.

“Many of the classes I teach are modeled on classes I took at Montclair State. I’m not teaching students what to think, but how to think about preparing for a role,” he explains.

His next role is that of Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which will run at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC during the Christmas season.

Both Carolan and Gero have worked successfully as actors since completing their studies at Montclair State. Their advice to acting students is to persevere and follow their passion—whether in front of an audience or in other show business-related capacities, such as producing, directing, or casting. “For me, I knew acting was what I wanted to do and I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else,” declares Carolan.