U’s acting program heads to NYC

By Gabrielle Gaston, Red Pulse Writer

What young actor hasn’t dreamed of picking up and taking off for the Big Apple? The Performing Arts Building at the U is home to an entire group of young hopefuls headed for New York to do just that.

This band of fresh-faced thespians is composed of individuals who have completed their junior year of the Actor Training Program and are hungry to show their skills to the right people.

In April, the final group of those who successfully auditioned will have a showcase in Salt Lake City and then fly to New York to share their talents with a small theater full of directors, producers and casting agents. This incredible opportunity didn’t just present itself. The idea came straight from the students, who felt that their program, which is rated one of the top undergraduate acting programs in the nation, was sorely lacking a way to share their craft with those who really mattered. In short, the important people weren’t going to see the students unless the students went to see them.

Last year marked the first New York showcase to be held annually for the U’s department of theatre. All of the funds were raised by the students through performances, grant writing and just plain old-fashioned panhandling (never a bad skill for an actor). The show was held in a respectable theater in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Several students landed auditions with New York agencies as a result. One student was even asked to return to audition for a musical being workshopped for Broadway. The members of this year’s showcase hope to match that success, and have added some improvements.

Eb Madson, a senior in the program, and an important fundraiser for the group, explained the students took it upon themselves to add a showcase performance in Salt Lake City. They plan to invite local casting agents, talent agencies and artistic directors to their showcase, to not only raise funds, but to show local professional theater companies the caliber of the graduates emerging from the U. They have also opened up the eligibility requirements to past graduates of the program. This year’s roster includes three incredibly talented program graduates8212;Sam Wessels, Heidi Hackney and Logan Black. The members of the senior showcase hope to add more graduates in the years to come. They also hope to expand the showcase to Chicago and Los Angeles.

“What’s really incredible about this is that students started this,” Madsen said. “They planned it and it actually happened, and now it’s growing and expanding. We’re doing it. We’re really going out of our way to be seen. It’s great and it’s time. The sky is the limit, really.”

The students of the U’s theater department have begun to take the next step in their careers as professional actors. They have plunged head first into the “real world”8212;it’s scary, it’s exciting and it’s only just begun. And, as the song goes, if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.

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Erik Daenitz

Every year Performing Arts majors raise funds to fly to New York in hopes of landing an audition that will help them further their acting careers.

Erik Daenitz

Students in the Actor Training Program at the U created a Salt Lake City Showcase to display how graduating seniors have developed while at the University.