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Erin Weinberger works hard for her fairytale. The ASU student, professional dancer and massage therapist is visiting ASU Gammage Dec. 19 through Dec. 24 with the touring Broadway cast of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
Weinberger began dancing at age 2, and she’s been hooked ever since. She went to Wilkes College in Pennsylvania for a few years, but after attending the Broadway Dance Center Summer Professional Semester, ended up pausing school and moving to New York City to pursue her dream.
“It’s a dream come true,” Weinberger said. “It’s literally a dream come true. This is my first tour. When 'Cinderella' was on Broadway I actually didn’t get a chance to see it, so when I saw that this was going on tour, I got really excited. It truly is a magical show.”
This is Weinberger’s national touring debut, and she has many roles in the company. She was cast as an ensemble member and the understudy to Madame and Charlotte. She says her favorite scene is the romantic waltzing at the ball.
“We’re partnered with these spectacular men,” Weinberger said. “We get to wear these huge, expensive gowns. They’re like 25 pounds each and like $10,000 each. It’s crazy. It’s so crazy. We get to do about a 15-minute ball. Everything about it is so magical. It’s truly the scene where Cinderella and Prince Topher fall in love with each other.”
Weinberger says she is proud to perform with “Cinderella” because the message resonates with her, as well as audiences young and old.
“You fall back in love every night,” Weinberger said. “It’s definitely hard and challenging and exhausting. I would never want to leave that part out of the tour, but it makes up for it when the lights come up at the very end, and we do bows and there are little girls in the audience with their princess costumes on or men in their 70’s with their prince costumes on.”
Aside from recreating a fairy tale night after night, Weinberger, a licensed massage therapist in New York, is working toward finishing her degree in Integrative Health Sciences through ASU Online. She hopes the degree will increase her credibility as a massage therapist and will allow her to pursue that career in the future.
“That’s what really inspired me to finish my education because I am successful in my musical theater career without finishing my degree,” Weinberger said. “I thought it would be smart to finish my degree in something that would help me along the way later. I really, really have another passion for massage therapy.”
Weinberger says that ASU Online was the only degree that offered her the flexibility and credibility to pursue her musical theater career wholeheartedly while working on her education.
“The way that ASU’s online program is set up, it’s so easy to navigate,” Weinberger said. “Your schedule is yours. You get the assignment at the beginning of the week and then you make the time for yourself.”
ASU Online classes give students the flexibility to pursue their dreams while still getting an education.
“ASU Online’s mission is really furthering the university mission of making education accessible and really including people that might be excluded from higher education based on time restraints or distance restraints from ASU,” said Casey Francis, engagement manager for ASU Online.
ASU Online has grown to over 30,000 students since 2009 within 150 degree programs. Students are taught by instructors who teach on campus.
“All of the range of the support services and resources that on-ground students can access are also accessible by online students,”said Hanna Friess, of ASU Online marketing. “For someone like Erin, who is traveling, there are 24-hour tutoring services. We really cater to the online student’s busy lifestyle with juggling many priorities and ensure that any need or support they might have are met by online resources.”
Weinberger is proud to be working toward a degree; she plans to graduate in approximately two and a half years. She looks forward to finally visiting the ASU campus with the national tour of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and getting a sweatshirt from her school.
“One thing my mom said to me my whole life is people can take away so many things from you, but they can never take away your education,” Weinberger said. “ASU has truly given me a whole new way to get my education.”