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Music Theatre

Student Voices

  • Austin Nelson '18
    Austin Nelson '18

Austin Nelson ’18


Bolingbrook, Illinois


Music Theatre

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite place on campus is probably Starbucks. Lame, I know, but hey, I love a good salted caramel hot chocolate.”

“If you love to sing, dance, and act, why not make a career out of it?” With that mantra and his passion for fine arts on fire, Austin Nelson ’18 came to Carthage to major in music theatre and has hopes to work for different regional theaters after he graduates.

Upon meeting Prof. Corinne Ness during a visit to Carthage, Austin’s choice to make this campus his home for the next four years was solidified. “She just made the visit so personal. It was so clear that she wanted the best for all of her students. The rest is history,” he said.

When asked about his workload as a music theatre major, Austin stated that the courses push you to your limits, but “the feeling after a great performance is totally worth it.” 

Career goal

“After I graduate, I hope to work with different regional theaters to keep pursuing the dream of performing in musical theatre, and to maybe dabble in writing musicals and plays. I’m also very interested in starting up my own theatre company, but will take baby steps.”

Favorite professor

Prof. Corinne Ness has had a huge impact on my life. Aside from being one of the deciding factors in my decision to come to Carthage, she has been such a great help when it comes to advice on song choice, life after Carthage, and just anything you want to talk about really. She is just the best of the best.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class has been Theatre for Children (THR 2180) with Prof. John Maclay. Learning about the world of theatre for young audiences was somewhat life-changing for me. It was amazing to learn about all of the different children’s theaters and what it’s like to work in that field. We also got to adapt a children’s book into a play and that was really great. It was just a really fun time. I could go on for hours, but just take the class.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was Voice for the Stage (THR 3100), also taught by John Maclay. Each week we learned a new Shakespearean sonnet in a new dialect. At first it was rough learning how to write things out in IPA, and some of my dialects were just awful (Scottish, I’m looking at you). The class challenges you, but in the best way possible.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I got the amazing opportunity to go on the J-Term trip to Spain with Carthage Choir in 2015. It was a truly amazing trip and may be one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I also recently got to go on the New York J-Term in June study tour with the Theatre Department and it was the first time I had ever been to New York and it was mind blowing. We got to see Hamilton. I cried.”

Campus involvement

“I am a part of the Merely Players Improv Comedy Troupe, the Carthage College Neil Futurists, and Alpha Psi Omega, the honorary theatre fraternity.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“There are literally so many favorite moments! How do I choose? Most of my fondest memories happened with my fellow Class of 2018 music theatre majors. They are some of the most fun and goofiest people you will ever meet and they are my best friends. I have a vivid memory of us belting “We Go Together” from Grease. We have this ongoing joke where if it’s played, we have to play it over and over again. Funny little things like that make us laugh and it’s just so great.”

Biggest surprise so far?

“The biggest surprise I think is how far I’ve come as a performer. Whether it be singing, dancing, or acting, I always felt that I was OK at them all, but after coming here I got the sense that there is always room for improvement. It’s never going to be perfect, but the drive to keep pushing and getting better just grows more and more as I get closer to the real world.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“Eight-year-old me thought I was going to the NBA, so I think he’d be pretty upset, but I always loved to sing and dance as a kid so I think he’d get over it.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“Go to class, brush up on your musical knowledge, and be prepared to work hard. It isn’t easy. There are times when you’re gonna be really stressed, but in the end it will all work out and you’ll have some of the best times of your life. Also, bring a coat. The winters here are brutal.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …