Lorentz Aberg stepped onto the Diamond Theatre stage for the last time.
The audience lights dim, and the stage becomes brightly lit. He is ready to begin what will be his last opening night in the Diamond Theatre at Zoellner Arts Center. His role is the Narrator in the play “Minnesota.” The production is a one-man show. Aberg plays five characters, all which have different personalities and voices. Aberg has to find a way that all the characters can play off each other.
Aberg has set the record for the most plays a student has been in at Lehigh, starring in 19 school productions.
“Minnesota” is the most unique show Aberg has performed in. With each role Aberg has been cast in, he creates a playlist of all the songs that are related to his character. For the play “Minnesota,” the playlist consists of four songs that are of the country genre.
“(The show) did not run in a standard rehearsal process,” Aberg said. “It was mostly run like an independent study. Pam Pepper, the director, and I would sit down and talk, and go through pieces of the show. She would give me some feedback, and we would not meet for another week.”
Not having the standard rehearsal process at times was hard on Aberg because he had to rely on himself to pick up on things that a normal director would correct. For example, Aberg tends to hold his feet turned out, and that took him a long time to correct, he said.
As the audition process started in Aberg’s first year, he wanted to audition for absolutely everything. He was in a total of four shows his first year, two of which were overlapping. Aberg found himself performing in “Moon for the Misbegotten” in the first five minutes of the show, scurrying through the tunnels in full costume and make-up to the Black Box Theatre to rehearse for “Twelfth Night.” Following rehearsal, he would scurry back through the tunnels for his “Moon for the Misbegotten” curtain call.
“It was a lot (of work), Aberg said. “You get home from rehearsal (or the play) and you really don’t want to do much of anything. It is so mentally exhausting that you just want to fall into bed and watch Netflix.”
Aberg’s acting career began in middle school, but that was short-lived. He auditioned for the production “Alice in Wonderland” and got the part of the dodo bird.
“There were about 10 dodo birds, and the lead dodo bird was a kid that I hated,” Aberg said. “So, I quit the play.”
Aberg rediscovered theatre in high school when his mother made him pursue an extracurricular activity. Aberg chose theatre. He auditioned for one of his high school productions and has been acting ever since.
Aberg’s high school acting teacher was dedicated to his students and what he did. As his high school years went on, he came more involved in the world of theatre. At the time when most high school students are looking into colleges, Aberg went to his acting teacher for advice. He was potentially looking into auditioning for acting conservatory schools when his teacher let him in on something that Aberg did not realize.
“He said to me ‘Lorentz, you do not have the brain of someone that is going to sit down and do one thing,” Aberg said. “And he was right.”
Aberg said he knew that he wanted to pursue a theatre major in college. When he found out about Lehigh’s arts and engineering program, he knew that this was a perfect fit.
“(The program) will let me get a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelors of science degree without having to try and mix them or having to do part of one, or part of the other,” Aberg said. “I declared my theatre major and my computer science major like four months into my freshman year.”
The audition process is something that Aberg is accustomed to. At Lehigh, students either sign up or walk into an audition. The director will give each person a basic excerpt from the show and have them read it. The director may ask the candidate to make an adjustment just to see how they take direction or what kind of creativity they have.
Kashi Johnson, a theatre professor and the director of the spring 2014 production of “Our Lady of 121st Street,” said that her first impression of Aberg was that he was talented and smart.
Johnson decided to cast Aberg for the part of Victor, an old Italian friend of the main character sister Rose.
Aberg said after the auditioning process is over, callbacks happen. Callbacks can happen in one of two ways — the director has a choice to call back the entire audition list or just a few students. After callbacks are done, the director, the stage manager and the assistants discuss what would work best for the production, and then the cast list is formed. After that, rehearsals begin.
“(Rehearsals) generally are five days a week for three hours,” Aberg said. “We don’t really have a specific time that rehearsals start and end. We work around people’s schedules.”
All of the hard work that goes into the show pays off on performance nights. The cast gets together about an hour and a half before the show begins and does a physical and vocal warm-up. After the warm-up, Aberg likes to spend some time alone to get into the mindset of his character.
Alana Corey, ’16, worked with Aberg in the production of Urinetown and Medea.
“Lorentz is extremely professional,” she said. “He pushes himself to get where he needs to be emotionally, physically, and is a dedicated worker. He is always on the top of his game whenever a show is involved.”
Aberg encourages students interested in theatre to reach out to professors in the department. He says the theatre department is always willing to help budding young actors and appreciates any enthusiasm.
“If you are enthusiastic come and find someone in the department, and they will point you in the right direction,” Aberg said.
Even though Aberg’s Diamond Theatre days are over, he still has one final production in the Black Box he can put on his resume before graduating in December 2014: “Reefer Madness the Musical.”