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.

Point Park University

Your name: Viveca Chow

School you attend: Point Park University

Major and degree type: B.A. Musical Theatre but I’m planning to switch to a B.F.A. in my sophomore year.

Expected graduation date: 2016 for the B.F.A., but some students who choose to stay a B.A. Musical Theatre can graduate in 3. It is possible!

What initially drew you to your school? What made it your final choice?: The strong dance program Point Park has. Point Park’s dance program is known to be one of the best in the States. I really wanted to work on my dancing so this was one of the factors influencing my decision. PPU also gives out generous scholarships! Their application AND audition is free as well.

What was your audition experience like with this school? Was it different than other schools you auditioned for?: I auditioned at Chicago Unifieds, because I’m actually from Hong Kong. So I didn’t get to visit any campuses (I only did campus tours available on each of the schools’ websites)! When I auditioned for Point Park at the Unifieds, I felt so welcomed by the 2 people who auditioned me (Zeva Barzell, Head of Musical Theatre at PPU and Sheila McKenna, Chair of Theatre at PPU). They didn’t intimidate me at all. I felt really comfortable and wasn’t stressed out about them judging me. This was a recurring problem I had with most of my auditions. But the PPU audition I had was a very easy, relaxed process. They even worked with me on my monologue on how I should improve it. The dance audition was the most challenging dance audition I did at Unifieds, but it was also the most fun. I’m a strong mover, but not a technical dancer. So I was really terrified of the dance audition at Point Park. But in the end it all worked out. Point Park definitely doesn’t look for perfection, but potential. I can also say the same for other schools.

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, but they are great because of their passion” – Martha Graham.

What do you feel your program’s strengths are?: As I mentioned before, Point Park has a beyond amazing dance program.  But we also have a phenomenal voice and acting department here at Point Park. Point Park provides amazing triple threat training. No doubt.

What do you like best about the faculty?: Our faculty is SOOOOO caring. I can’t emphasize enough on how caring they are. Considerably, we have a larger program than other schools – around 40 each year. But everyone in the faculty knows you by name. At the beginning of the semester, we had private conferences with the Head of Musical Theatre. Also, at the beginning of every class, a lot of teachers would do a “check-in” session, where they go around the class and check how everyone is doing. You can always set up an appointment with anyone in the faculty if you have any concerns! They are always free to talk. They are honestly the best.

What is your campus like?: We are located in the downtown [Pittsburgh] area. The campus is super convenient. There are shuttle services everyday to the Pittsburgh Playhouse (associated with The REP, Point Park’s professional theater company). During the weekends, they have shuttle services to the waterfront/whole foods so you can do any type of shopping (especially grocery shopping) there. There are also loads of public buses around. The theater district (where most touring shows come in) are of walking distance from Point Park.

Do you feel your program places any particular emphasis on acting, dancing or singing, or is each area completely equal?: As a strong dance school, there is definitely emphasis on dancing, as we do it everyday. But acting and singing comes close.

What types of techniques do you study? How do these techniques influence your program as a whole?: As a Freshman, we study Cecchetti for ballet and Stanislavski for acting. These techniques are honestly great techniques because you can incorporate them quickly with other things. Everything you learn is relevant and interlinked with other things! We also have piano sessions, and sight-singing classes, which are required Freshman year. As a performer, you should be able to sight-read pitches and rhythms at an audition. And the piano classes help you as a musician – you can learn any song by plucking out the notes (with the correct rhythm) yourself!

What are the performance opportunities at your school?: Too many. I don’t even know where to begin. As a Freshman, you’re not allowed to audition for the REP (professional) shows. But you are allowed to do anything other than the REP shows – from student productions to the shows by Playhouse Jr. Students have put on shows such as Little Women, Tick Tick Boom, Speech and Debate, Half-Acts, Directing scenes this semester. Freshmen can also audition for the student one-acts in May. In your sophomore year and above, you can audition for anything.

What are your tech requirements as a student?: Crew work (Front of House and backstage) for 2 shows as a Freshman. One show a 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, definitely. We have PCLO nearby, so a lot of Point Park students get booked there during the summer. We also have an exchange program to London (The Globe Theatre) if you wish. During the school year, with Sheila’s (the Chair of Theatre at PPU) approval, you can do shows outside of PPU. However, no, we don’t have anyone to help us coordinate this work specifically. Upperclassmen are often the ones who help out. They share their own summer-stock/regional theatre work with lower years. So even though no one helps us coordinate this work specifically, we still get LOADS of help from upperclassmen and teachers (if you ask them!)

How many men and how many women are in your class? Is this typical of other current classes in your program?: Around 17 men and 33 women. There is about 40-50 in every class but different proportions of men and women every year.

Does your program have a cut system?: No. But if you are a scholarship student, you have to get above a 3.0 GPA average and a C or above in every class. Otherwise, you will lose your scholarship.

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?: As I said before, any type of work during the school year with any theatre company require Sheila’s approval first. If it’s professional that takes a lot of time and clashes with most classes you have, most of the time the student chooses to leave him or herself. Because why would parents want to pay for a college their child doesn’t even attend? This situation has definitely happened before, and I have heard from the upperclassmen the students who were offered professional work had their spots held in the program.

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 showcase in New York and LA. Not every student is invited to perform. You are chosen to participate in the showcase based on an audition. But I think they’re switching something up this year and only going to New York to showcase this year so they can take more people.

How many classes (or credit hours) do you take based in the arts? How many gen eds?:  18 credits based in the arts. 1 gen ed per semester. CLEP tests are available too.

Please share your class schedule with descriptions of your classes: I can only talk about Freshman classes, since I’m only a Freshman.

Ballet everyday for 1.5 hours. Private voice once a week. Musical Theatre history twice a week for 1.5 hours – where you learn about the history of Musical Theatre because it is important to know your composers. Voice and speech for 1.5 hours twice a week – working on your natural voice, how you connect your voice to your monologue. Acting for 1 hour and 50 minutes twice a week – you work on different scenes every semester. Your acting teacher changes throughout the semester. Piano and sightinging 1 hour each, twice a week. In the second semester, basically everything is the same except you have Musical Theatre techniques instead of Musical Theatre history. This techniques class teaches you how to deliver your song. It’s a class to also discover new repertoire and organize your book. You also get to take directing classes, acting for the camera, playwriting classes if you wish when you’re a junior/senior. You also learn about the business in your senior year, and audition work.

Feel free to share anything else about your program that you think is relevant for us to know, or what makes it great!:  Loads of people have asked me about the BA and BFA track. Basically, if you are accepted into the program as a Musical Theatre major, you automatically are a B.A. in Musical Theatre. But in your sophomore year, you have the CHOICE in switching to a B.F.A. if you want. Or you can stay a B.A. Both choices are completely fine. To switch into a B.F.A., you have to audition. But if you don’t get the B.F.A. the first time, you can try to audition again in another time. So eventually, you will get your B.F.A. You can also minor in basically anything you wish (dance, business… etc)

Would students interested in your program be free to contact you? If so, please list your e-mail address:

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