A junior has been cast as an ensemble member and understudy in the touring production of the musical “Dreamgirls,” which currently stars an ACU alumna.
Eean Cochran, junior musical theatre major from Trophy Club, auditioned for the show in a last-minute trip to New York City two weeks ago after receiving a call from the casting agency.
“They asked me to fly to New York the next day to audition,” he said.
Cochran said he called his mom to discuss the opportunity with her. After she encouraged him to pursue it, he got permission to leave class and rehearsals for “Footloose,” in which he has a principle role.
Cochran has been seen in ACU shows such as “42nd Street” and “The Pirates of Penzance,” as well as performing on the Sing Song dance team for three years, choreographing and participating in Gamma Sigma Phi’s 2013 Sing Song act and performing with Sanctify. He has performed professionally at regional theatres in summer productions of “Hairspray” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
The “Dreamgirls” audition included about 15 other men, Cochran said. After performing two dances it came down to five performers. Those remaining sang songs from the show they had been asked to prepare ahead of time.
“After singing they interviewed me and asked me to sing another song from the show that we weren’t supposed to have prepared,” Cochran said. “That caught me off guard but it was really fun. I got to sit down and talk with them. They’re nice people.”
Cochran said the director ended the audition by telling him that “it was definitely worth the flight.” He was offered the job only two days later.
“I got the call during mic check right before we went on for final dress [rehearsal for ‘Footloose’],” he said.
After receiving the call, Cochran said he approached Dawne Meeks, associate professor of theatre. Cochran has been playing Willard Hewitt, a principle role in the theatre department’s production of “Footloose,” which Meeks is directing. Accepting the role in the “Dreamgirls” tour requires him to leave the semester early and consequently miss the final weekend of “Footloose” performances.
Cochran said he accepted the role after getting permission from his professors to leave the semester early but still finish his credits on the road.
“I’ve finished three quarters of the semester, so I wanted the credits to count,” he said.
Ryce Garren, sophomore musical theatre major from Amarillo, will fill Cochran’s role in “Footloose” for the final weekend of performances. Garren said he met with Meeks the afternoon before Footloose opened. She explained the situation and offered him the part.
Cochran said he began rehearsals to teach Garren the role on April 15.
“It’s been fun,” Garren said. “He’s really good at what he does and he’s a great teacher.”
Cochran departed Texas on Monday morning to meet the touring company in Kentucky. Jasmin Richardson (’09), a graduate from the theatre department, is currently starring in the tour as Deena Jones. Cochran said he has been in contact with her since he decided to attend the audition.
“She’s been the sweetest person,” Cochran said. “She called me before the audition and prayed for me-. When I got the job she knew before I did, and so she called me and said congrats.”
Richardson said having graduated from ACU, she knows where Cochran is coming from.
“He has a great foundation and I’m excited to see him apply that,” she said.
Richardson also said she continues to feel blessed by her ACU connection.
“I love ACU and I’m definitely going to look out for Eean,” she said. “I’m so proud that he got the job and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
After meeting the company in Kentucky, Cochran will perform in “Dreamgirls” at locations in Canada with the possibility of more performances being added to his contract. He said the contract will end in time to allow him to perform at The Legacy Theatre in Atlanta this summer, where he already accepted the role of Turk in the regional theatre’s production of “Tarzan.” He plans to return to ACU in the fall.
Cochran, a member of Gamma Sigma Phi, said he has been very appreciative of support from his club, classmates, cast mates and friends.
“They definitely support me and have been here all along the way,” he said. “I definitely would not be at this place without these people who have been supporting me, so I want to say ‘thank you’ to all of them.”