It comes as no surprise that the bright lights of Broadway intrigued a group of Nebraska Wesleyan University theatre students to spend their spring break in the Big Apple.
But the group of 40 students and their professors are quick to tell you the trip wasn’t just about the sights and sounds.
Theatre professor Ryan Kathman collaborated with NWU theatre alumni in New York city along with other professionals in the business to create an opportunity for NWU’s students to gain tangible experience.
“When it comes to theatre, there are only a handful of cities in the world where you can truly make your living in the industry as a performer, and New York City is the pinnacle of those cities,” said Kathman, a 2003 NWU theatre alumnus. “In addition to just trying to prepare our students holistically for wherever their careers may take them, we also must prepare them specifically for the realities of the New York market.”
Kathman worked with professional choreographer Hollie Howard to rent studio spaces in New York City and arrange for workshops by guest artists. Alumnus Mitch Rafferty, a New York City actor, helped prepare the students for the experience, while Kathman filmed and screened audition pieces for students to share with guest artists.
“It is hugely beneficial for our students to see Midwestern success stories,” said Kathman.
Students met with Broadway stars, casting directors, talent agents and choreographers. They performed mock auditions and concluded their experience with a cabaret at the Duplex of Greenwich Village. Several NWU theatre alumni were in attendance.
“We are lucky at NWU to get a lot of chances to get on stage and perform, not only in classes, but in productions,” said Jonathon Algeroy, a senior from Houston, Texas, who plans to pursue theatre in New York City or Los Angeles following his graduation in May. “The most important thing for me is that I feel whole and complete wherever I am.”
For Kacey Rose, a senior from Omaha, the experience in New York City affirmed her plans to pursue a career there after graduation.
“We are so lucky to have so many helpful alumni in the city that keep in touch and help each other out,” said Rose. “I am thankful for this support system that transcends university life. Wesleyan Theatre Company has created lasting friendships that grow into business partnerships and connections.”
When students weren’t networking and auditioning, they did get the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple including visits to museums, Greenwich Village, Central Park and Broadway shows.
“There is something special about being there at night and seeing all of the bright lights,” said Rose. “We had the fantastic opportunity to see the city that many of us hope to move to and pursue our careers.”
—Story by Danielle Anderson, public relations intern