Written by Sophie Rossitto // Photo by Macy Cox
Senior acting major Asher Patten said he has never reached a specific point in his life at which he knew he wanted to be a professional singer or actor.
However, his sister, sophomore Sienna Patten, said her brother has always shown a natural musicality that extends beyond the stage and into his everyday life.
“He thinks in music,” she said. “He is always thinking of tunes, humming tunes.”
Patten’s theatre credits at Harding have included starring roles in the Homecoming productions of “Elf: The Musical” and “Cinderella,” as well as back-to-back stints as Spring Sing host in 2022 and 2023. Patten said his natural gifts have pointed him toward a passion for acting and performing.
“When I am doing those things and doing what I love and decorating myself and other people and uplifting a group in what I’m good at and what the Lord has given me, then that’s when I feel most like me and most like I’m doing good work,” Patten said.
Patten accepted an offer last month to work as a performance apprentice at the Aurora Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, starting this summer. The company’s website said its apprenticeships help participants bridge the gap between education and professional theatre through workshops, understudy roles and more. Patten said the 11-month position will give him chances to perform onstage during the season and learn under professional actors and actresses.
Patten said he got this opportunity by auditioning in early March at the Southeastern Theatre Conference, which the Harding Theatre Department takes students to each year. Patten said he had 60 seconds to sing and give a monologue in front of people representing at least 40 different companies. Afterward, Patten visited multiple interested groups and did an interview with the Aurora Theatre’s casting director. He later sent the company additional audition materials.
Patten said he felt relieved and excited when he got the offer via email. Although he received other offers, Patten said he chose the Aurora program because of its location in a bustling city and the good impressions he had of the company during the hiring process.
Dr. Susan Shirel, chorus director and music professor, said Patten has taken voice lessons with her since fall of 2020. She said Patten is very teachable and focused on the goals he wants to accomplish, and she is excited for him to continue to grow during the apprenticeship.
“I think that it’s a great next step for him,” Shirel said. “He’s fully equipped and prepared to take on this next level of work.”
Patten said he is not sure where his career will take him, but he would like to keep performing in some way after his apprenticeship ends.
Sienna Patten said she thinks this new position will be a good fit for her brother. However, she said the two are very close, so it is bittersweet that he is going far away for a long period of time.
“He is my dearest friend,” she said. “I’m very proud of him.”