By: Lauren Speirs
The Naples Players provides a welcoming place that anyone can call home and the result is a dedicated family of staff and volunteers to go along with it. We hear all kinds of stories at our theater – from people who are stepping on-stage for the first time, to former equity actors who love the atmosphere and exciting opportunities offered at TNP. Our March Volunteer of the Month, Kelly Rossberg, joined our volunteer team in the summer of 2022 and has an impressive background in professional and community theatre.
Originally from Alaska, Kelly graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as the Moscow Art Theatre School. “I moved to New York City for a few years and I got tired of working to have just enough for my rent, so I moved to St. Augustine and then Jacksonville (acting in both places). I moved back to Alaska and worked at Perseverance Theatre and then from 2016 until now, I decided to take a break from acting.”
Kelly worked in the titanium manufacturing industry during this time and says, “I pursued starting a business not involved with theatre. It was a great experience and I learned so much, but I felt like I was living a half life. I didn’t realize I was depriving myself of something that makes me so happy and fulfilled. I’m in The Sound of Music rehearsals now and I’m loving it. I feel really energized and like I’m doing what I’m meant to do.”
Kelly is no stranger to Naples, his grandparents lived here and he’s been visiting for about 20 years. “I’m blown away by how much it’s grown and I just thought, ‘I really want to be a part of that.’ Also, I lived in St. Augustine so I knew what the Florida lifestyle is all about and I thought, ‘I could do that!’ I’m absolutely loving it here.”
Kelly found out about TNP after a quick Google search of theaters in the area and made a connection with the staff. From there, he was brought in to volunteer as a backstage crew member for Something Rotten! and Blithe Spirit. “It was an interesting way to be introduced to a theater, as I have never started out as a crew member before. It showed me the atmosphere and the community and I met a lot of great people, especially during Blithe.”
Initially, Kelly did not think he would audition for The Sound of Music. “I never even watched the entire play start to finish before, but I knew Dawn (Lebrecht-Fornara, The Sound of Music Director) and Charlie (Fornara, The Sound of Music Music Director) were directing it. They also directed Something Rotten! – which is not one of my favorite shows, but they made it awesome. I really did not intend to go to The Sound of Music auditions, but I was sitting on the couch thinking, ‘come on – just go!’ I had one of the worst auditions I’ve ever had so I didn’t expect anything.”
As it happens, Kelly did get a callback without him realizing it. “The callback email went into my spam so I got a text asking, “Are you coming to callbacks?” Meanwhile, I was thinking about my terrible audition and wondering, ‘Did I even get a callback?’ I read for Captain von Trapp but I’m way more of a Max so it all worked out for the best. Ever since rehearsals started I’ve been thinking, ‘What have I been doing for the last six years?!’ I can’t believe I wasn’t involved in acting for so long. I feel more and more myself every day since starting this rehearsal process.”
There is truly something for everyone at The Naples Players. Kelly brings great experience to our stage and has found his best group of friends in Naples so far! “I’m a new guy in town so I wanted to meet like-minded individuals. I’ve noticed some people who are really incredible and volunteer so much of their time to this theater – Papa Joe, Roseann, and more. They’re all super heavily involved and it’s a family – a family with such a sense of being a part of something bigger, and it’s a great place to get to know people. TNP is my biggest family in Naples and this has made Naples the best move I’ve made so far.”
Looking ahead, Kelly’s excited to hone his acting skills with TNP. “I’m working on getting back into the swing of things and as an actor that is really exciting to me. It’s crazy to be here on 5th Avenue performing to sold-out houses.”
Every one of us at The Naples Players appreciates all of your hard work, Kelly!
All of our staff and volunteers love to get new volunteers into the mix! If you’re new to the area or just new to volunteering at TNP, don’t hesitate to join the fun. Test your skills at the next audition or contact Pamela Larkin Caruso today at 239-434-7340 ext. 104 to find out what other opportunities there are backstage and front of house!