This summer, a Dubuque native will perform a handful of roles in four productions taking place at Woodstock Playhouse, in Woodstock, N.Y.
Evan Dolan, 20, who will be a junior pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater at Illinois Wesleyan University, in Bloomington, Ill., will perform in "Spamalot" (Historian, Fred, French Guard, Minstrel, Prince Herbert); "Jesus Christ Superstar" (Apostle, Ensemble); "The Three Musketeers" (D'Artagnan); and "West Side Story" (Baby John).
His contract with the company will begin on June 6 and run through Aug. 10.
Woodstock Playhouse began as a rural extension of Broadway in 1938. It since has become an internationally renown summer stock theater, with a wealth of both actors and directors of well-known acclaim gracing its stage. Patti LuPone, Diane Keaton and Peter Yarrow are just a few who saw the start of their careers at Woodstock or who have performed there.
It marks a significant professional debut for Dolan, who has his sights set on musical theater as a career.
"I'm just so excited to perform," he said. "To get to do four shows in one summer ... usually, you only do one show a semester when you're in school. And, at Illinois Wesleyan, they don't allow you to perform your freshman year just so you can soak up everything and settle in. You learn so much."
The year away from the stage seemed a lengthy hiatus for Dolan, who was cast in his first show, "Feast of Life," in the fourth grade. But it allowed him time to process his training, he said.
Last year, when he returned to the boards in Illinois Wesleyan's production of "A Class Act," Dolan said the drive to perform really set in.
"I was like, 'This is what I want to do. I want to make a career of this,'" he said. "I feel like Illinois Wesleyan has prepared me well. They've been awesome and so supportive."
Dolan is a 2012 graduate of Dubuque Hempstead High School and the son of Joseph and Margaret Dolan, of Dubuque.
A former Iowa All-Stater, who appeared in leading roles with local productions while living in Dubuque, Dolan recently returned as the surprise guest soloist for the Grand Pops Orchestra's Summer Songs of the '50s, '60s and '70s concert at the Grand Opera House.
He credited Paul Hemmer, executive director at the Grand, with helping along his budding career path, as well.
"He's really great to the young performers in the area," Dolan said. "He's helped me a lot. When I auditioned for Michael Feinstein's Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition, he accompanied me and sent me about 200 jazz standards to listen to."
Hemmer praised Dolan, who has performed in numerous Grand Opera House productions throughout the years.
"Evan is such a talented young man with a huge voice with great acting and dancing skills, too," Hemmer said. "He has a terrific work ethic and shows great joy and a real passion for what he's doing. I have no doubt that he'll reach whatever goal he sets for himself. He's another one of those amazing young Dubuque talents that we'll probably see on Broadway someday."
That golden age of Broadway is what Dolan said he gravitates toward.
It's music that fits like a glove on a voice that booms a maturity beyond his years.
"I love singing that music; it's good for my voice," Dolan said. "I love the humanness of musical theater and performers like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. I've always loved singing, but I've become very passionate about dance. Musical theater takes all of those qualities -- music, dance and acting. It's fun to bring that life to a character."