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Penn State Junior Makes Off-Broadway Debut In ‘Broadway Bounty Hunter’

Penn State junior Jasmine Forsberg got the opportunity of a lifetime over the summer to get a taste of her future career.

She made her off-Broadway New York debut in Broadway Bounty Hunter, a musical about down-on-her-luck actress Annie Golden’s recruitment by a bounty hunter to fight crime in South America. Throughout her journey, she discovers just how badass she really is.

Forsberg has been involved in the performing arts from a very young age, beginning with dance classes and voice lessons. When she moved from Chicago to Florida in 2005, she performed in a youth theatre production of 101 Dalmatians. From that point on, she began taking her craft more seriously.

“I would fight my mom to go to dance class because I didn’t enjoy it all the time when I was younger,” Forsberg said. “Theatre as a whole was something that I never complained about.”

She auditioned for professional shows in Central Florida where she earned the lead roles in Orphie and the Book of Heroes and Tina Denmark’s Ruthless! The Musical, respectively.

When it came time to audition for musical theatre programs, Forsberg knew it would be smart to stay in Florida from a financial standpoint and never considered going out of state. However, she said when she auditioned for Penn State, she felt an instant connection.

“One of the things I always say about [the musical theatre] program is that Penn State, the faculty, and the people, value you just as much, if not more, as a person than they do as a performer,” Forsberg said.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Forsberg heard about auditions for Broadway Bounty Hunter through a Facebook message from the casting director’s assistant. She said she doesn’t check Facebook Messenger often but is grateful that she did that day.

She knew the show was coming to off-Broadway after reading articles about it and knew it would take place over the summer. However, she didn’t even consider auditioning for the show due to her focus on school.

The entire process happened in less than a week. After receiving the Facebook message on a Friday, Forsberg hopped on a Megabus to New York that Sunday and auditioned the next day. That Thursday, she got a final callback for the show. A few hours later, while walking through Central Park with a friend and talking about her final callback, she got the call that she’d been waiting for.

“I got the call as I was mid-sentence,” she said. “I was so happy because it felt like my dreams were coming true, and this was a huge step in that direction.”

The reason she believes she got contacted about the show is because of her previous experience with the show’s director, Jennifer Werner, who choreographed Love in Hate Nation at Penn State during Forsberg’s freshman year when she played Brenda “Rat” Ratowski.

Her other roles at Penn State include Pilar in Legally Blonde and Norma in Hands on a Hardbody. Next semester, she’ll perform The Lucky Boy.

Forsberg was in the ensemble and played a variety of characters in Broadway Bounty Hunter, including a, you guessed it, bounty hunter named Indigo. She, along with her character, could relate to Annie’s character because of how they’re perceived by other people.

“Because I am a minority in this world, sometimes people try and put me in a box, and they try and tell me what I can and can’t do because of the way I look,” Forsberg said.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Forsberg said the rehearsal process was intense. She only had three weeks to prepare for the show. New script pages, key changes, choreography, and fight sequences were added each day during rehearsals. Although it was a lot at times, she credits Penn State’s musical theatre program for properly preparing her.

“I think because of the training I’ve received at Penn State I was more than ready for it,” Forsberg said. “It’s really awesome to be able to feel so confident in that, despite being the youngest person in the room.”

She also attributes John Simpkins, the head of the musical theatre program, for acting as a resource and a source of encouragement to help her throughout rehearsals. Additionally, the Broadway Bounty Hunter team worked with Forsberg to assist with her transition to life in the city.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Previews for Broadway Bounty Hunter began July 9, and the show opened officially on July 22. The show closed on August 17, which was earlier than the expected closing date on September 15 due to a number of factors. Despite the show’s early closure, Forsberg said she’s proud to have been a part it.

Forsberg is taking a leave of absence this semester to prepare for her next professional project. She will reprise her role as Brenda “Rat” Ratowski in Love in Hate Nation. She’ll be joined by fellow Penn State senior Amina Faye, alum Lena Skeele, and John Simpkins. The show will premiere at Two River Theater in New Jersey and run from November 9 through December 1.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a senior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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