Austin Nelson

Class Year



Bolingbrook, Illinois


Music Theatre

“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.” 

“There are literally so many favorite moments! 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.”

Austin Nelson, ’18

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.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

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.”

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.”

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.”

Favorite moments and memories 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.”

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.”

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.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“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.”