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.

Kent State University

Your name: Brooke Upholzer

School you attend: Kent State University

Major and degree type: BFA Musical Theatre

Expected graduation date: May 2014

What initially drew you to your school? What made it your final choice?: What drew me to the school was it’s alumni (mostly Alice Ripley) and the Porthouse Academy. It was my final choice because the faculty really seemed to want me to be there and wanted to help me in my journey to honing my craft. I was extremely impressed with the audition process and loved the fact that there is a Senior Showcase in NYC at the end of your Senior year.

What was your audition experience like with this school? Was it different than other schools you auditioned for?: It was a very organized experience. The faculty and current BFA students were all so nice and helpful, and ready to answer any of my questions that I had. I felt relaxed and right at home. I loved that there was a question and answer session at the end of the process with the faculty. It outshined almost all of my other auditions, aside from the U of M audition. I auditioned for [one school where] the students were wearing PJs to come help out and were speaking about personal issues very publically while we waited for our turn to perform, it was so unsettling and I ruled that school out while I was at the audition.

What do you feel your program’s strengths are?: The access to faculty help outside of the classroom is amazing. You can set up meetings with any professor and they will adhere to their office hours unlike some university professors I have encountered. They want to see you graduate in 4 years, and will do everything in their power to do so. Another great strength, which I feel is the best, is our visiting directors program. This year we had Tony Award winner Michael Rupert come and direct our production of Spring Awakening. Now I have that connection and will continue it throughout my career.

What do you like best about the faculty?: They are willing to help you get what you want out of this program. You have to put in the time, the effort, and the commitment, but they are willing to help you when you are having trouble or anything. The head of our program, Terri Kent, will answer my texts in the wee hours of the morning when I am freaking out over an audition and she will coach me through it until I feel settled. She is amazing, as is the rest of our faculty.

What is your campus like?: The campus is a pretty good size campus, but its quite small in comparison to a Big 10 campus. It’s known for being a commuter school, but there are still plenty of nice dorms on campus. As a Musical Theatre major, I pretty much stick to one building (the Music and Speech building) unless I have a gen. ed. class somewhere else on campus. Its very convenient to have the dance, acting, and music programs all in one building.

Do you feel your program places any particular emphasis on acting, dancing or singing, or is each area completely equal?: I believe it is what you want to make it out to be. We have the option of auditioning for the professional level dance classes so we can improve our dance on a professional level, different types of acting classes including theatre and film acting, and singing we have our typical Musical Theatre Performance class but we also combine with the Vocal Performance department and get singing lessons once a week. You can take as many dance as you would like, as many acting, and same with sining. Me personally, I have spaced it out so it is all pretty much equal.

What types of techniques do you study? How do these techniques influence your program as a whole?: We study many different techniques so we can find the one that really suits us best including Chekov, Stanislavski, Laban, piano, and music theory. I love it that each professor has a favorite technique and know all about it, but are open to teaching us about more if we don’t feel comfortable with the one we are learning about. I personally love Laban work, and will continue to use it throughout my career. I would of never known about these techniques had I not gone to school here.

What are the performance opportunities at your school?: There are so many performance opportunities here at Kent State. We do 4 main stage show a year directed by a faculty member of a visiting director. 2 plays, and 2 musicals are usually what we pick, but lately we have been doing 2 musicals and 2 plays with some music in them. There are also student directed and produced lab shows, the black box is open to anyone who can sign up for slots to direct a show, and a lot of staged readings happen as well including new musicals written by students.

What are your tech requirements as a student?: Since the program is constantly changing, the requirements are as well. The incoming freshman now take a class that teaches about costuming, lighting, scenery, and sound and will take 2 labs in their field of choice. There is also a technical practicum that is required as well. You can fulfill this by either being on tech crew for 2 shows, doing 1 show and 50 hours in the shop, or 100 hours in the shop.

Does your school encourage arts related work outside of your program? If so, do they have someone to help you coordinate this work?: Yes the HIGHLY encourage it, and in fact Kent State has its own professional theatre company called Porthouse Theatre that regularly hires students from it’s own program and outside as well to perform in these shows, which feature equity and non equity actors, and gives equity points to those who want them. We also do what we call a “screening audition” which the faculty will look at a 16 bar uptemp, 16 bar ballad, and 1 monologue and they will tell you what they like or dont like about it and will tell you which unified audition you are approved to go to, and that is where the bulk of our summer work offers come from. With me it was different, I went on my own and auditioned for Disney but the faculty supported me every step of the way.
We have a student who is studying abroad in London this semester, learning about the theatre over there because that is where she essentially would like to end up. She is a Sophomore this year and will still be on the right track to graduate on time.
The school also encourages doing community theatre work during the school year, but if you get the role it must be approved by the faculty. They will explain this if you are offered a role.

How many men and how many women are in your class? Is this typical of other current classes in your program?: There are 13 girls in my class and 10 guys. There is no cap or minimum the University can accept, so each class varies a lot. It all depends on our needs for the program and the show season we have coming up.

Does your program have a cut system? If so, how does it work?: No we do not. However, we have a meeting with the faculty every year and they will tell you if they feel you are not improving the way you should be and you should consider changing your major. They will not force you to leave the program, and sometimes that’s just the kick in the butt people need to keep motivated, but there is no concrete cut system.

Are you aware of anyone who has been offered professional work while studying? Were they encouraged to leave or stay? Is their spot in the program held?: Yes! We have 2 girls right now on the non-eq national tour of Hair and were encouraged to leave for the duration of the tour. Their spots are held in the program, and they are receiving internship credit and doing online classes to keep on track with the 4 year program. It is encouraged and preferred for someone to take the job rather than turn it down.

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?: Yes we do showcase! We do a showcase preview here in Kent, and then go to NYC to showcase. We do 6 shows in 2 days and pair with another school to cut the cost of the venue. You must audition at the screening audition I mentioned earlier to get into showcase, and not every BFA has a guaranteed spot. About half of the BFA MT seniors got to go this year. Its not because the others were not ready to go, it’s just that the faculty believed that going to NYC at this time would not be beneficial to them because what their type may be is what they will achieve when they are a little bit older and can play those roles. They want to showcase the people who are going to get work NOW.

How many classes (or credit hours) do you take based in the arts? How many gen eds?: We need at least 124 credits to graduate from Kent, 36 of those are gen eds, the rest of based on the arts.

Please share your class schedule with descriptions of your classes: My class schedule is pretty simple this term. I took a boat load of credits my freshman and sophomore year so my junior and senior year would be stress free. Monday- Theatre History II, Theatre history is one of the most challenging classes I have ever taken and we are required 2 semesters. It is with one of the most well known Theatre History professors in the country and we learn about different types of theatre in the past and present and read plays that correlate with the lesson. Sounds easy right? No… but its very rewarding in the end!
Tuesday- Movement II, mostly Laban work with monologues and movement as an actor
Voice studio, where we get up and sing our pieces we have selected for Juries, you must sing 4 times in the class a semester
American MT History- the history of American musical theatre, self explanatory
Wednesday- Theatre History II
Thursday- Movement II
Voice LESSON- we only have studio once a week, and then we have a voice lesson wherever it fits in your schedule once a week. There are multiple voice teachers, and you can request one or they will place you with someone
American MT history
Friday- no class 🙂

Feel free to share anything else about your program that you think is relevant for us to know, or what makes it great!:  I love my program. I have had my ups and my downs but overall I have loved my experience here at Kent. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Would students interested in your program be free to contact you? If so, please list your e-mail address: Yes!!! my email is: bupholze@kent.edu

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