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The Next Generation Of Actors

Green Bay City Pages presents ‘The Next Generation,’ a spotlight for local, high school talent

Ione Berken, a senior at Green Bay East High School, said she has been performing in musicals since she was in the fourth grade. Submitted Photo

Name: Ione Berken

Nickname: Odie

School: Green Bay East High School

Area of interest: Musical theater

Parents: Jeff and Sara Berken

Ione Berken is a senior at Green Bay East High School and an active member of its musical theater program.

Singing since she was little, Berken said she got her start with musicals through Birder Studios when she was in the fourth grade.

“I love the adrenaline of performing in any space, whether a broom closet or a huge theater, audience or not,” she said. “I also adore the bonds I’ve made through theater. It’s where, quite literally, all my friends have come from. Every aspect of the theater is truly my working lungs.”

Berken said she can’t pinpoint a favorite thing about performing, because everything about it is what makes it a total package for her.

“The art of it, the storytelling, the performing itself, the bonding, it’s everything,” she said. “I’ve been in musicals and plays ever since, and throughout high school has been no different.”

This past year, Berken was cast as Janet Van De Graaf in East’s portrayal of The Drowsy Chaperone.

This summer, she said she is looking forward to again being involved in the St Norbert College NextStage program.

“That is truly my second home,” Berken said. “Last summer, we did Spongebob, and I’ve spent every day since counting down to auditions for this summer’s production of Anastasia.”

She plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this fall in pursuit of a Bachelor of Art degree in musical theater.

“And then move to New York or Vienna and get work as a stage actor,” Berken said. “I couldn’t live without theater in my life. It has always been the only career path for me, truly.”

What six words would you say describe you best? “Determined, reliable, helpful, articulate, fun, musical.”

Do you have any hidden talents? “I don’t know? I can make a mean breakfast hash.”

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve received? “I was given this piece at an orientation before a college audition in context of advice for auditions or performances, ‘Channel your nerves into the passion that they are,’ and it’s stuck with me ever since.”

Where do you hope to one day visit? “Austria. Their musicals are incredible. I’d actually like to live there and perform their musicals in the future. But as of right now, it’s somewhere I’d love to visit.”

What advice would you have to other students thinking of starting with musical theater? “Don’t let people’s opinions of you based on two-three minutes of performance in an audition ever define you. They know so little about you other than those three minutes. Keep your head up. Keep auditioning. Rejection is not the end.”

What is your favorite activity you’ve done with musical theater? “My favorite thing I’ve done is 100% NextStage at St Norbert College. I don’t have all the words to explain just how much that program has done for so many people, myself no exception. I had some self confidence issues going into last summer, and came out of NextStage as such a self-assured performer and truly as a new person. I have made lifetime bonds there, and it will always be my true second home. It will definitely be hard to ever top the experiences I’ve had there.”

Cereal: Honeycombs
TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Local restaurant: Two Birds Bakery/Café in De Pere
Pizza topping: Green pepper

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