Theatre and Dance Students Perform for Top Professionals in New York City

by News Bureau on Thursday, Jun. 14, 2012

Photo of Southeast students with New York City Skyline in Background

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 14, 2012 — Select Southeast Missouri State University theatre and dance students traveled to New York City in May to perform before agents, casting directors, producers, alumni and friends of the University in a showcase and dance workshops.

The New York City Showcase took place May 15 at Penthouse Studio I.

“Universities that bring showcases to New York are preeminent in nation; only the really prominent, progressive programs bring them to New York, and Southeast has truly joined those ranks,” said Dr. Kenn Stilson, interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The showcase featured a variety of pieces, including musical theatre, a musical theatre dance, audition, straight play, monologues, scenes and two group numbers. The genres were based in musical theatre and modern and contemporary realism.

Stilson said the performances were well received.

“A lot of people in the casting world go to a lot of showcases, and many of them commented that our students were extremely well prepared, and there is certainly a great deal of talent. They thought our showcase was one of the most professionally coordinated of all the university showcases they have been to,” he said.

More than a dozen casting directors, agents, Broadway professionals, producers and even Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie came to the event to watch Southeast students perform. After the performances, a panel of eight gave individual feedback to each student who attended.

“It was a very positive experience,” said Lindsay Prawitz, who performed at the showcase. “We got a lot of really great feedback, both constructive and positive. There was a great energy in the room, and we had a lot of fun. We learned from not only people on the casting and production side but also from Broadway performers – superiors and peers – so that was really nice.”

Students who performed in the New York City Showcase include Maria Bartolotta of Fenton, Mo.; Gabrielle Brown of Fancy Farm, Ky.; Carly Earl of St. Carles, Mo.; Eileen Engel, Jake Ferree, Stephanie Peterson and Bradford Rolen, all of St. Louis; Jeanine Holtgrave of O’Fallon, Ill.; Prawitz of St. Joseph, Mo.; Caleb Schaaf of Perryville, Mo.; Abby Vatterott of Manchester, Mo.; and Zach Wachter of Chaffee, Mo.

Students who participated in the New York City dance workshops went to two professional dance studios and took master classes in jazz, ballet, modern and dance from top New York professionals.

“The experience is all about networking and contacts and establishing relationships. In the last few years alone, a considerable number of young alumni have moved to New York and Chicago and Los Angeles and are now doing exactly what we trained them to do. It’s kind of amazing how many of our young alumni are in these major cities because of events just like this,” Stilson said.

Students who performed in the New York City dance workshops include Danielle Albertina of Collinsville, Ill.; Carolyn Beatty of Florissant, Mo.; and Holtgrave.

“This is a very important part of what we do and what we continue to do at Southeast,” Stilson said. “It’s an incredibly important event, not just for the department but for the students. A substantial part of our program is designed for career development. The point is to teach them not just the art of theatre and dance but also the business of theatre and dance and how to successfully launch a career in this competitive business.”