Tag Archives: Thespians


Lincoln, Nebraska.

International Thespian Festival.

556 auditions in 14 flights of students over four days.

That’s what I have been doing this last week.

Several years ago, my boss Peter Sargent asked me to join the theatre faculty in Lincoln so that we could better assess the musical-theatre prospective students.  I think that I’ve made this trip now six out of the last nine years.  And it’s always a treat.

My colleague Bruce Longworth and I sit at the table for the long flights of auditions, wherein students have 90 seconds to present one or two songs or monologues.  After a few flights of students, we issue a call-back list of those we’d like to see again.

These students then work with us individually in a hotel conference room, mostly on Friday and Saturday.

The follow-up for me is to send these students a personal note, and include links to various blog entries that may be helpful, including my listing of all the songs performed at auditions this week, audition tips, and a blog entry about contemporary musical theatre composers.

with Ben Love.

Five years ago this week, I met my beloved student Ben Love here at Thespians.  I hope that five years from now I’ll be able to say the same thing about one of these students we met this week!

P.S. — this is what Ben looked like when I met him:

And this is what I looked like when I met Ben:

I was thinner five years ago.

Fan boy

I must admit to a fan-boy moment on Thursday.

Here’s the set-up: I was at the table in the audition room, thirty minutes prior to auditions starting at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln.  This 60-something man asked me what the wi-fi code was.  He looked vaguely familiar.

My boss, Peter, turned around a minute later and said “You know who that is, don’t you?”

Turns out he was Robert Westenberg, Tony Award-nominated actor who originated the role of Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and the role of Dr. Craven in The Secret Garden.

See, these are two of my down albums for a desert island.  I grew up as a musical theatre artist listening to this guy’s voice.

And there he was all day, sitting 15 feet away from me in the audition room.

He is now professor of theatre at Missouri State University, where he directs the musical theatre program.

I finally spoke to him in the afternoon.  He’s a sweet and kind man.

And I’m still fan-boying a bit.



Finally got smart

Over the last four days, we witnessed 14 flights of 40-46 students each perform 1.5-minute auditions in a cattle-call setting, with a hundred college reps at tables in the rooms.

The venue was the Nebraska Alumni Champions Club at the University of Nebraska; the host was the International Thespian Festival.

The chairs?  Uncomfortable after 10 minutes, butt-numbing after 45, and swear-worthy by the end of the day.

That lip at the back of the seat hits the coccyx at a rugged angle.  It’s just poor design if part of the point is to encourage people to sit tall — which one needs to do over a nine-hour day.

I finally got smart and brought a pillow from the hotel.  My bum on Thursday was a happy bum!

And just in time too, since Thursday commenced at 8.30 a.m. and ended at 6.30 p.m., five flights of auditions later!


What I did last week . . . .


International Thespian Society Festival 2015.  Student recruiting.  Being a teacher and coach.