Mentoring for your college auditions | The MT Project

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

There’s just something about being on stage that I can’t really describe. It’s almost like being transported to this magical place where nothing else in the whole world matters. You know when you see something or hear something, and it just feels like perfection? It’s like that.

All I know is that I want to do this for the rest of my life.

Whatever your goal may be, it’s our mission to ensure that you achieve it.

And with us, advice is always free.

Ball State University

Your name: Kelly Ufford

School you attend: Ball State University (Located in Muncie, IN)

Major and degree type: BFA in Muscial Theatre

Expected graduation date: May 2015

What initially drew you to your school? What made it your final choice?: Upon deciding which schools to audition for, my mother and I compiled a spreadsheet of nearly 60 schools that have a musical theatre major. With that I narrowed down my choices based on whether or not they had a cut program, location, university size, conservatory vs. public institution, etc. What drew me to Ball State was that it was a public university. I was not interested in a conservatory because I knew that that was not for me. I wanted a public institution to be around people of other majors and to have the opportunity to take classes outside of my major. Along with that, the success of the department drew me to the school. At the audition, they were warm and welcoming. What eventually made it my final choice was based on my audition experience and looking at the curriculum of the school.

What was your audition experience like with this school? Was it different than other schools you auditioned for?: 
I auditioned at the Chicago Unifieds. It was a pretty similar experience auditioning at Unifieds as it was for all the other schools I auditioned for at the Chicago Unifieds. One thing that made Ball State stand out to me was the fact that they took the time to work with me on my audition material as I auditioned. I found this to be very impressive since they are seeing hundreds of auditioned each day, yet they took the time to work with me, despite a busy schedule.

What do you feel your program’s strengths are?:

  • Immersion: Ball Statue University as a whole institution has started is an “Immersion Learning Experience”. With that, departments across campus have Immersion Learning Projects where students volunteer their time to work within their community in various ways that are directly applicable to their major and future career.  The Department of Theatre and Dance had a group of students  and a faculty advisor who did an immersive learning project to write an original musical called The Circus in Winter based on the novel by Kathy Day. What is impressive is that this musical is currently undergoing the process to be on Broadway in a few years!!
  • Group collaboration: One big part about Ball State is group collaboration. In several classes there are group projects, which places an emphasis on how well you work with other people. In some classes this includes mixing groups of different majors with in the department, rather than just being with the music theatre majors or whichever major you are. This provides a great opportunity to get to know the other students in the department and builds a mutual respect for their given majors.
  • Acting: we have a very strong acting faculty. They focus not just on “acting” but how to use your whole body, breath, movement, and getting your full voice. Each different acting studio you take focuses on these things and it is a neat experience to see how much you grow over a year.
  • Well rounded dance + Dance history: Our dance classes give you the opportunity to take ballet, jazz, and tap. Along with that you take two semesters of Music Theatre Dance which focus on partnering and other styles of dance. Within the classes you also focus on the history of these dances, which is equally as important when doing a show to understand the origin and style.
  • 
Strong vocal faculty: the voice faculty is phenomenal! They each are different in their pedagogy, but are equally as strong in the results of their students. They provide challenging reps and allow you to think out side of the box.

What do you like best about the faculty?: Our faculty truly cares about you as a person first. You are not just a number in the department, but they take the time to get to know you for who you are. They are there for you and support you no matter what. They do challenge us and push us to strive to be our best. They emphasize hard work and diligence; laziness does not cut it! They want to see you succeed and they are always on your side. They are always open to having office hours to discuss your work in class and to discuss how to better yourself in your art. They are all very personable people and are some of the best mentors and future networkers you will meet!

What is your campus like?: Ball State University is a Division 1 university with approximately 16,000 under graduates and 2,000 graduate students. For a division 1 school, the campus is very moderately sized. You can get from one end of campus to the other in about a twelve minute walk, and there are shuttles constantly running across campus. It is a lovely campus with nice landscaping and nice architecture. It is not a difficult campus to maneuver, and within your first week here you will know where pretty much every thing is! I was a Ball State Summer Orientation Leader in 2012, so if you have any further questions feel free to shoot me an email! ( located at the bottom of the form)

Do you feel your program places any particular emphasis on acting, dancing or singing, or is each area completely equal?: 
There is slightly more emphasis on acting and singing than dancing, but it’s not too drastic. You still have the opportunity to  take dance classes every semester!

What types of techniques do you study? How do these techniques influence your program as a whole?: There is not one particular method we study. Each acting studio teacher has their own method they use. For example, in my voice studio we are studying Patsy Rodenburg. This has been great in that we are learning how to release our voices in the given space through our work. In our acting movement studio, we mainly studied the Grotowski method, which teaches us to expand ourselves out and breath in all directions to be aware and fill the entire space.  These are just a few examples of the methods we study. In ballet, depending on the teacher, there is either the French or Russian technique you will learn.

What are the performance opportunities at your school?: 
Within the four year program, there is usually One-2 musicals, 2-3 plays, and one dance show as a part of our main stage productions. Music Theatre students audition for both the musicals and plays, and acting majors have the option to audition for the musicals. We have two main performance spaces, which include a proscenium stage, and a black box style studio theatre where the main stage productions take place. Once the main stage productions are cast, students who are not cast in those productions have the opportunity to go to call backs for the four student directed shows that occur each semester.  Along with that, various theatre organizations throughout the department put on cabarets and small shows throughout the year, so there are AMPLE opportunities to be a part of a performance!
*It should be noted that freshmen are not allowed to audition their first semester at the university. I believe this to be fair because it allows the students to get adjusted to the university and to begin their training. I found this to be a  very valuable way of entering my college years!

What are your tech requirements as a student?: Freshman year you are required to do a practicum each semester. This includes the option general crew, hair/makeup, or costume stage work for one show, box office, usher, or theatre library. 
-You take stage craft for one semester, which includes a lecture and a 2 hr stage craft lab per-week
-You also take a make up class for one semester

Does your school encourage arts related work outside of your program? If so, do they have someone to help you coordinate this work? Yes! Our school does encourage outside work.
-One faculty member has close ties with theme parks, so she coordinates auditions to come to campus for Cedar Point, Kings Island, and sometimes Busch Gardens. She also has a connection down in Georgia and brings Legacy Theatre to campus for an audition. For other various auditions, such as Mid West Theatre Auditions, South Eastern Theatre Conference, North Eastern Theatre Conference, and Ohio Theatre Alliance, to name a few, it is up to the student to schedule that themselves. SEVERAL current students audition at these places each year so they are a  great resource!!

How many men and how many women are in your class? Is this typical of other current classes in your program?: Currently my class has eight women and eight men. This is pretty typical for each class in the university, however it is not always an equal division. It depends on what the department is looking for each year, so it can fluctuate the number of guys vs. girls. Usually there are no more than sixteen per acting and music theatre class.

Does your program have a cut system? If so, how does it work?: We do not have a cut system.

Does your program do a senior showcase? What cities do you showcase in? Is every student invited to perform? If not, how are the students chosen?: We have senior showcases for the Acting and Music Theatre students in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles
-Not all MT and Acting students are chosen or the showcases. For each city, a casting agent who our school works with to plan the showcases comes and auditions the students. It is only their decision to decide who will be in the showcases, so it is an unbiased decision! 
The number is different each year for the number of MT and acting students selected

How many classes (or credit hours) do you take based in the arts? How many gen eds? Please share your class schedule with descriptions of your classes: 
Here is a link to the 8 semester plan for Music Theatre students. If you have any questions for classes, please email me! (email listed below)

Feel free to share anything else about your program that you think is relevant for us to know, or what makes it great!: My program is completely supportive and we are one big family! If you have any questions, please let me know!

Would students interested in your program be free to contact you? If so, please list your e-mail address: Kelly – kcufford@bsu.edu

Ready for the next step?

Get in touch with us

3 + 10 =

Don’t want to use the form?

Drop us an email | adriane@themtproject.org

Give us a ring | (734) 277.6611

Our place in the world | we’re located in Allen Park, Michigan, a suburb just south of Detroit. If you’re local or going to be in the area, we’d be happy to meet with you in person!

.