If you asked Erica Lynn Schwartz and Kenneth Ferrone how they ended up on Broadway, both would instantly credit Northwestern. They met while working Northwestern's Waa-Mu shows, together honing the skills that would allow them to hit the ground running in New York.
Grateful to the institution that helped advance their theater careers, Schwartz and Ferrone actively participate in the alumni community in and around New York City. They played vital roles in the NAA's 2008 A Night with Northwestern in New York: Expect the Unexpected, serving as producers of the entire program. With an audience of 650, it was the largest alumni event ever in the New York area. Along with director and previous NAA Service Award recipient Jen Bender (C01), they spent countless hours planning the artistic components of the event, supervised more than 85 alumni and volunteers, and arranged alumni performances and introductions. The two established themselves as alumni leaders at the previous year's event, A Toast to the Past, A Toast to the Future, of which Schwartz was the producer and Ferrone was the associate producer. Boasting 600 attendees, the program broke records that year, as well.
The School of Communication's annual Acting and Music Theatre Senior Student Showcase in New York City gives the young graduates another chance to help their alma mater; both have produced the show in the past. In addition, Schwartz is a board member of and Ferrone is executive producer of the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance East, a group for alumni in entertainment and communication professions.
Schwartz is now in production management at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She was previously a producer and management associate for 321 Theatrical Management, during which time she worked with shows such as Wicked and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She also volunteers for the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. In further work with the NAA, she has volunteered as a host for the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT).
Ferrone is in the theater department at International Creative Management (ICM), a talent and literary agency representing writers, directors, composers, and designers in the Broadway, international, and live entertainment communities. There, he has had "the surreal privilege" of representing the accomplished writers he studied while at Northwestern, including Christopher Durang, Paul Rudnick, and Joan Didion. He is actively involved with the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS group, which supports industry professionals with HIV-related issues.
Ferrone notes that Northwestern equipped him "with the tools necessary to succeed in the arts and entertainment field with social and professional prowess." Thinking of professors she had and the opportunities she was given to produce and direct shows, Schwartz, too, affirms that her Northwestern experience "has completely influenced [her] professional life."