Busy Final Year Brings Graduate to NYC Early

Senior student lands two costume design jobs just off Broadway

Carnegie Mellon University seniors are supposed to graduate, then begin their first job. Not Jake Poser. He wrapped up his classes early and hasn’t been on campus since April 17. Poser will return on May 19 for commencement with a month of Big Apple experience tucked into his cap and gown.

Poser, who will graduate with an bachelor’s degree in fine arts for costume design , has spent the last four weeks in New York City. He’s the assistant costume designer for two Off-Broadway plays. The first, "Toni Stone," will open a few days after commencement at the Roundabout Theatre Company. The second, "The Rolling Stone," begins production later this summer at Lincoln Center.

Carnegie Mellon University senior Jake Poser is an assistant costume designer for two Off-Broadway plays.

"After my freshman year, I was very lucky to get an internship in New York at the Public Theater, which kind of snowballed into the next job, then the next," said Poser, who has worked on two other Broadway shows: "Frozen" and "Mean Girls."

"Starting a job in New York City before graduating? It’s not exactly what I planned, but it’s exciting."

Poser said his parents had always pushed him to express himself visually, and he had a childhood filled with the fine arts. He attended a performing arts high school in West Palm Beach, Florida, and soon learned he enjoyed working backstage rather than onstage.

That would lead him to Carnegie Mellon and one of the nation’s best drama schools. He spent the majority of the last year preparing for the musical "Cabaret," where he was costume designer.

Jake Poser has been working in NYC for the past month as an assistant costume designer on two shows, "Toni Stone," and "The Rolling Stone." While at CMU, Poser designed costumes for shows such as "Cabaret.” Images courtesy of Jake Poser

Jake Poser has been working in NYC for the past month as an assistant costume designer on two shows, "Toni Stone," and "The Rolling Stone." While at CMU, Poser designed costumes for shows such as "Cabaret.” Images courtesy of Jake Poser

Jake Poser has been working in NYC for the past month as an assistant costume designer on two shows, "Toni Stone," and "The Rolling Stone." While at CMU, Poser designed costumes for shows such as "Cabaret.” Images courtesy of Jake Poser

Jake Poser has been working in NYC for the past month as an assistant costume designer on two shows, "Toni Stone," and "The Rolling Stone." While at CMU, Poser designed costumes for shows such as "Cabaret.” Images courtesy of Jake Poser

Jake Poser has been working in NYC for the past month as an assistant costume designer on two shows, "Toni Stone," and "The Rolling Stone." While at CMU, Poser designed costumes for shows such as "Cabaret.” Images courtesy of Jake Poser

"My favorite part of costuming is cohesively working with the rest of your collaborator’s designs," Poser said. "I’m looking to tell the story through costumes. But I must do it by meshing with the visions of the director, set designer, sound designer and others. The best designs are those that don’t stick out individually, but that tell a single part of a larger production."

That outlook is one thing that Poser will take with him from Pittsburgh to NYC.

"Carnegie Mellon provides you so many opportunities to see the big picture," he said. "We have classes that teach you how to build sets, how to sew and how to design. I’ve worked with so many great peers at CMU. And because of it, I have the best friends."

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