Workshop introduces Carthage students to the Broadway way
By Michael Moore
In the heart of New York’s Theatre District, three Carthage music theatre students soaked up guidance from Broadway professionals during an exclusive weeklong workshop in August.
Jenna Payne ’14, Kaylee Annable ’13 and Breannin Beelow ’13 participated in the workshop Aug. 5-11 at the Open Jar Institute in New York. Only 64 college-aged students were selected to participate from among thousands who auditioned nationwide.
For about 6 1/2 hours each day, the students worked in intensive classes with experts in vocals, dance or acting. Then they had question-and-answer sessions with Broadway legends such as Susan Stroman, who has won five Tony Awards including both Best Director and Best Choreographer for “The Producers.” Their immersion continued in the evenings, as they attended several musicals.
For Jenna, a theatre and music theatre major from Des Plaines, Ill., the chance to hone her talents based on feedback from Broadway performers was “the best week of genuine experience.” She was especially excited to see progress in dance, which she considered her weak link.
“They warned us from day one that they would push us out of our comfort zones,” Jenna said. “From the very first dance class of the week, I was noticing how quickly I was improving because the instructors treated it like an actual Broadway audition. That kind of pressure and desire to do my best for them put me in a completely different mindset.”
Most practically, the workshop participants said they picked up valuable tips to use when trying out for a part. Students performed multiple mock auditions, receiving feedback from major casting directors, and learned the proper etiquette they’re expected to follow.
“One of the most important things I learned was proper audition technique,” said Kaylee, a music theatre and theatre core major from Chesterton, Ind. “We were taught step-by-step how to audition: what to say when you walk in, how to speak with the accompanist, how to walk around the piano. This knowledge is extremely important.”
The importance of individual expression stuck with them, too. Breannin, a music theatre and theatre performance major from Mundelein, Ill., said she learned “that you always need to be you. Don’t try to be anyone else, because there is only one you.”
Simply being chosen for the workshop illustrated the students’ abilities. The Carthage students were selected based on their performances in January at the American College Theatre Festival in Illinois, one of 23 audition sites nationwide.
“What’s really impressive about all three of these ladies is that they were able to be successful in all three rounds of the auditions, from the general call, to the call back, to be picked for the final program,” said Professor Corinne Ness, director of the Music Theatre program and chair of the Music Department at Carthage. “That’s a testament to their skills as performers and the training they’ve received.”
The students agreed the guidance and coaching they received during the week in New York made the exhaustion worthwhile.
“Of course I still need to work hard and try to become the best I can, but I feel more comfortable with my choice of career,” Kaylee said. “I gained confidence and a revived sense of belonging.”