The Department of Theater will conduct Senior Showcase 2011 this Saturday to give New York agents Nancy Carson, owner of Carson-Adler Agency, Inc., and John Shea, director of the Frontier Booking International New York, an opportunity to view top-talent at ACU.
This years’ show is the 5th annual showcase and will feature all eight graduating, performance track senior musical theater majors: Kat Bailey from Houston; Carlee Cagle from Arlington; Erick Carter from Abilene; Payton Jones from Abilene; Sebastian Karlsson from Linneryd, Sweden; Charlene Koepf from Concord, Calif.; Laura Wetsel from Fort Worth and Alek White from Mesquite.
The show will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. in Fulks Theater, followed by callbacks for a second audition and interview. Shea also will host a workshop on Saturday morning for all Department of Theater students. Theater students are encouraged to attend and benefit from the expertise of the agents and the experience of being involved with the showcase.
Dawne Swearingen Churchville, assistant professor of acting, and Adam Hester, department chair and professor of directing and acting, began the showcase in 2006, using Churchville’s connections with agents Carson and Shea from her on-stage career in New York. Churchville is thankful for the opportunity the event gives seniors to audition and begin making invaluable connections for their career.
“It can be hard to get exposure out in West Texas,” Churchville said. “We are able to bring New York to them, essentially. It is a great introduction to the agents as well.”
Junior theater majors also are invited to participate in the event, helping with group dance numbers and background roles in the production. Performer Seth Bazacas (’09) was first noticed by Shea as a junior in Showcase, and the meeting led to opportunities for additional auditions in New York, where he currently performs.
The theater department accepts only 12 majors each year, which allows for a lot of one-on-one instruction of each student, Churchville said. Seniors Emily Rankin, theater major from Abilene, and Shelly Tartar, design/technical theater major from Shallowater, also are involved in the production, helping with costume design and directing.
“As a department, we work to create a holistic artist,” Churchville said. “Directing and technical students are required to take acting classes, and performance track majors are required to take technical classes. There is a great respect for the people behind the scenes.”
Some of Saturday’s performers already have offers and plans for after graduation. Wetsel has been chosen to play Penny Pingleton in Hairspray at Fort Worth’s Casa Mañana, where she will perform until the end of August before moving to New York with fellow theater major Kat Bailey.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to perform with my class one last time,” Wetsel said. “This is a really special time for all of us, and it’s great to be able to do that with my best friends. I’m also just excited about taking this first big step into my professional career and seeing where it leads me.”