Three alumni perform together with Pittsburgh CLO

Comedy, horror fuse together in production of ‘The Toxic Avenger’

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Three alumni perform together with Pittsburgh CLO

Written By Kayla Snyder, Copy Editor

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As a freshman, Katie Sexton remembers looking up to seniors Caroline Nicolian or Quinn Patrick Shannon and aspiring to be like the upperclassmen at Point Park. Now, Sexton has the opportunity to perform alongside both Nicolian and Shannon in the Pittsburgh CLO’s upcoming production of “The Toxic Avenger,” which opens Sept. 22.

“I thought they were both the most talented people so I’m excited to get to share the stage with them,” Sexton said. “It’s cool to get to do a show with people you thought were so awesome when you were younger.”

“The Toxic Avenger” is set in a polluted town in New Jersey. Due to the fact that the pollution issue was becoming worse, a scientist named Melvin Ferd the Third researches how to fix the problem. He ends up falling into a vat of toxic waste and transforms into a mutant-human named The Toxic Avenger who kills all of the bad guys and saves the day.

According to the Pittsburgh CLO website, the show is described as an “unexpected love story and a laugh-out-loud musical horror-comedy.”

The three alumni casted in the show, Nicolian, Shannon and Sexton, all credit the university’s program to a lot of their success.

Nicolian, a 2009 graduate and Pittsburgh native, said that she learned the most about her talents while she was on stage at Point Park.

“While I was [at Point Park], I played such a wide variety of roles that got me to expand my horizons,” Nicolian said. “I wasn’t stuck in any kind of type or box. I learned the most about my craft while I was there.”

Nicolian starred in numerous productions since graduating from Point Park including “First Date” and “Jacque Brel is Alive and Well Living in Paris.” Although Nicolian has performed on stages outside of the university, she recalls her favorite shows being at Point Park.

“To this day, ‘Jane Eyre’ is probably still one of my favorite shows,” Nicolian said. “I got a chance to do that when I was a sophomore with Playhouse Junior… My fondest memories are back when it wasn’t about the job and the money.”

Sexton, a 2011 graduate and New Hampshire native, has since relocated to New York City. Some of the shows under her belt include “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific” and “Evil Dead.” She recalled her professors giving her the opportunity to further her craft to become a well-rounded performer and informing her of the difficulties of being in the theater business.

“You really do have to be a triple threat to keep your own when you’re out there,” Sexton said. “They teach you reality. They don’t tell you that you’re going to be a star. They tell you that you’re really going to have to work hard to get the jobs and to compete. I don’t know how many schools actually do that. They’re real about it, because it is really hard, but I think knowing that helps you realize you just have to keep going.”

Shannon, a 2008 graduate, has starred in various shows such as “Guys and Dolls,” “The 39 Steps” and “Plaid Tiding.” He describes his academic career at Point Park as a mixture of training and classwork.

“My experience at Point Park was that it’s all about the training there,” Shannon said. “You concentrate on the training and you concentrate on the classwork and everything else will follow.”

All three alumni said the professors at the university helped them advance their talents, but Jack Allison was mentioned by all three. Allison no longer works at Point Park but he spoke about seeing the three perform and progress in their careers.

“I remember when they first started in the program,” Allison said. “They were novices but when they finished they were experienced performers. They’re incredibly talented and I’m proud that they’re working in the professional theatre.”

The performers mentioned working in the theater business is not an easy thing to do. Shannon stresses that aspiring performers have to trust themselves and their skills.

“A lot of young kids lose [trust in themselves] in college and when they get out of college,” Shannon said. “If you know you’re talented, keep that confidence and don’t lose it.”

The Pittsburgh CLO’s production of “The Toxic Avenger” runs from Sept. 22 to Dec. 18 at the Cabaret at Theatre Square on Penn Ave. For more information, students can visit the Pittsburgh CLO’s website at

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