This summer session, students have the opportunity to take a special topics in theatre course called “L.A. without a passport” through a program with Patrick Cronin, an ETSU professor and well-established actor.
The trip will take place from June 14 to 28 and will feature introductions to big name industry professionals such as Lloyd Schwartz, creator of the Brady Bunch; Mike Lien, L.A. casting director; Randi Rubenstein, Head of Commercials Unlimited Agency; and Rich Correll, director at ABC.
“For over 25 years in L.A., I worked with some really extraordinary people,” Cronin said. “Not as a celebrity but as a working actor.”
Throughout Cronin’s career, he has been involved with a number of hit television shows and films including, but not limited to “Days of Our Lives,” “Home Improvement,” “Seinfeld,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Family Matters,” “Full House,” “Dr. Giggles,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Rocky V,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “Splash” and most recently, “Army Wives” in 2012.
“When I did ‘Army Wives,’ the way I auditioned was different,” Cronin said.
“I went down to the television studio, here on campus, and I filmed three scenes on the cameras.”
A friend of Cronin’s put them on an electronic file to send out via email to the producers in order to be cast.
“They never saw me in person, it was all done by television and film,” Cronin said. “But everything else from that moment was the same as 40 years ago.”
Cronin said he flew first class to Charleston, South Carolina, was then picked up by a limo and then taken to the set of the shoot.
“Everything that I did on the set, could have been 40 years earlier,” Cronin said. “Nothing about the actual business has changed, so I’m very grateful, because I’m always afraid that when I am teaching the students, I am out of the game.”
Two developments that Cronin has noticed, since the start of his career, include having a personal web page and being able to audition through the use of multimedia.
“Once you get hired, it’s just like it has always been,” Cronin said. “It’s a business. ‘How well do people like you?’”
After receiving a role in the television series “Home Improvement,” Cronin said it was a little difficult initially.
“We were doing this scene, I could tell that Tim [Allen] wasn’t happy with the writing so I did something I don’t usually do,” Cronin said. “I said to Tim, Mr. Allen, ‘How about we improv this scene and try to do it ourselves?’ And we did and it was funnier, the writers ended up writing it down.”
Another risk Cronin has taken involves leaving his hometown of Philadelphia to pursue other opportunities in a variety of places including New Orleans, Memphis, Los Angeles, and even Ireland.
“I was making a very good living in Philadelphia,” Cronin said.
“But I wanted to see if I can compete with the big boys so they offered me a new lead in a play [in Philadelphia], but I said no I was moving to Los Angeles.”
Cronin bought a one-way ticket and set out on his journey as an actor in Los Angeles.
“I loved L.A., I loved everything about it,” Cronin said. “It’s so superficial. Everything is gorgeous and the people are beautiful.”
Los Angeles is where Cronin developed his impressive range of filmography, along with meeting his wife Beatrice Colen and having his two children, James and Charlie.
After his wife’s passing due to lung cancer, Cronin made the move to Johnson City in 2000 to teach at ETSU with his two teenagers at the time.
“It was a big adjustment for them at first,” Cronin said.
Cronin is married to Amber Kinser, chair of the ETSU department of performance communication.
His children and stepdaughter are ETSU alums, and his stepson will soon attend ETSU this upcoming fall semester.
“I think I make a difference here,” Cronin said. “I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously and I’ve enjoyed the students a lot.”
As of right now, Cronin has two students on Broadway: Allison Guinn and Adam Perry.
“Give me another 10 years,” Cronin said.
“I bet you, we will have several ETSU students who are quite successful in spite of the competition.”