Meet Devon Nimerfroh
His world’s a stage
In 2012, Devon Nimerfroh stepped onto the boards, under the lights at Ewing Manor in Normal at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, playing Amiens in As You Like It, his first role as a professional actor. “It was equal parts humbling and terrifying,” he recalled. “I don't think it really hit me until after the show that I had just performed on stage at a reputable theatre. I remember sitting in the green room afterwards, just overwhelmed by gratitude for all of the people who helped me get there.” One of the people who helped get him there is Nadine Franklin, Director of Theatre at Kishwaukee College.
Devon, a Malta native and DeKalb High School alum, chose to attend Kish because he was unsure what he wanted to do as a career. He explained, “I actually attended Kishwaukee because I didn't have a chosen path out of high school. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made because of all of the incredible instructors they have. The staff there really provides you an opportunity to try on a lot of different hats and see what fits the best. And once you find the right hat, they provide you with the tools to pursue that career.”
The acting seed was sown at Kish in the Theatre. “I actually developed my first inkling towards this career path when I met my best friend (Kish alum and fellow professional actor) Kent Nusbaum in an acting class at Kishwaukee under the tutelage of Nadine Franklin,” he said. Nadine remembers him as a student in her acting class. She stated, “I taught Devon that, with each project or audition, he had to go in being ‘the best actor in the room.’ He embodied that philosophy and has clearly taken that ethic with him in his professional work.”
While at Kish, he auditioned for and won roles in Kishwaukee Theatre productions – he starred in On Stars Not Falling, Under The Influence, Months on End, and Rabbit Hole. He received the Outstanding Theatre Artist Award in 2009 at Kish.
After graduating from Kish in 2011, Devon continued his education as a theatre major at Illinois State University. His resume began to fill with roles and he was an Irene Ryan Acting Award Regional Finalist.
During his last year at ISU, Devon was competing in the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Michigan and made it to the finals. “I met Michael Legg, who was one of the judges for the final round, and he was also scouting talent for this apprentice program which I had never heard of. He asked me to audition and later that same day I auditioned with some haphazardly prepared material and I had a blast,” he recalled. “I had just auditioned for one of the most sought after and competitive acting apprenticeships in the world. Being somewhat new to theatre, I didn't know what Actors Theatre of Louisville was. A small google search remedied the misunderstanding and I soon learned that I should have been far more nervous than I was!” He was one of 20 apprentices chosen out of thousands of applicants.
“The apprenticeship allowed me to train and perform in a professional atmosphere; utilizing all of the amenities and relationships that working at a premier theatre offers,” Devon explained. “At Kishwaukee, I learned what to do in an audition, at a rehearsal, as well as in performance; Kish taught me how to be an actor in a room. In Louisville, I learned how to get into that room. ATL taught me how to be a fan of my own craft and a fanatic of my colleagues.”
Since first stepping under the lights on the stage at Ewing Manor in Normal, Devon has appeared in As You Like It, Comedy of Errors, Othello, The Rivals, Our Town, The Glass Menagerie, Picnic, and The Package.
Nadine Franklin’s influence and guidance were life altering for Devon and he still regularly contacts her today. “Nadine led me to a strong initial understanding of my craft which gave me a leg up in almost every room I've walked into since,” he said. “What's more, though, is that Nadine continued working with me after I left Kish. She provided me with a point of reference and mentorship that continues to benefit me to this day. She is my first call when I have a project, and the person whose words continue to guide me as I forge a career born of humble beginnings. I credit Nadine with changing my life.”
Devon Nimerfroh lives his life in the footlights, and wouldn’t have it any other way: his world is the stage.