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.

Western Michigan University

Your name: Nicolas Thornton

School you attend: Western Michigan University

Major and degree type: BFA Theatre Performance with an emphasis in Directing (formerly Musical Theatre Performance)

Expected graduation date: Spring 2015

What initially drew you to your school? What made it your final choice?: The environment at Western and Kalamazoo is so rich and full of exciting artistic experiences. There are the 8 main stage productions a year, roughly ten student directed shows, 10 or 30 minute directing scenes every semester, and a reputable theatre scene in the community with the Kalamazoo Civic and Farmer’s Alley. There are also a TON of workshops and other opportunities to really explore your self and your art. The building really felt like home, and it has proven to be exactly that. This school also attracted me because it fosters theatre artists. It doesn’t just build acting robots it creates thinking creatures equipped to change the face of the American theatre.

What was your audition experience like with this school? Was it different than other schools you auditioned for?: I auditioned for both programs and the audition process was very different from what I experienced other places. Both the Theatre Performance (TP) and the Musical Theatre Performance (MTP) audition in a tiered system. So if you make it through to Dance for MTP, after the singing and monologue, or to the callback for TP, after the initial monologues, you feel so much more at ease because you know they already like you. For the callback for TP you play games and they work your monologue with you because the staff here understands that high school students with little to no training probably don’t excel at monologues. They are interested in finding potential and they are willing to really look for it.

What do you feel your program’s strengths are?: The program’s strengths are its well rounded curriculum and its unbeatable staff. These teaching artists are at the top of their game, and they are constantly challenging their students to reach higher. These teachers create a learning environment that is conducive to play, discovery, growth, and most importantly failure. You cannot grow without a great deal of falling on your face. The curriculum is also unbeatable because it develops theatre artists. You are encouraged to create here, not just to simply replicate or manufacture.

What do you like best about the faculty?: It sounds so trite and clique but they are truly and utterly invested in you. It is not just a job to them. You are not just a job to them. They give you everything they have and more. They will rejoice with you in triumph and listen to your tears in times of stress and strife. They also know what they are talking about. This staff is cross-generational and covers so much of the wide spectrum that is the entertainment industry.

What is your campus like?: What campus? I honestly never leave the quad between Gilmore, the theatre building, and Dalton, the dance and music building. I suppose it is nice beyond the quad but I honestly don’t have a ton of experience in all that silliness.

Do you feel your program places any particular emphasis on acting, dancing or singing, or is each area completely equal?: The musical theatre program. From my experience, puts an emphasis on singing and acting. The goal is to produce singing actors who are competent enough to pass through a dance call. That is not to say the dance training isn’t great and those that are already dancers or have a natural inclination will not grow, but for non-dancers the goal is competency.

What types of techniques do you study? How do these techniques influence your program as a whole?: In voice and movement we do Yoga, IPA, Alexander and Fitzmorris. We are mainly Stanislavski with the exceptional exercise in Meisner until Acting V when we are exposed to Viewpoints, Suzuki, and an array of other approaches.

What are the performance opportunities at your school?: We do 8 main stage productions a year (6 straight plays and 2 musicals most years.) Roughly ten student directed pieces called footlights, which are both one act and full-length plays. Each semester the directing students do scenes either 10 minutes for directing I or 30 minutes for directing II. There are several staged readings each year usually directed by our professor emeritus. There is a very professional community theatre in town that do 8-10 shows a season, and bring in renowned guest directors.  And there is an equity theatre in town, Farmer’s Alley, and another 20 minutes away in Battle Creek, What a Do.

What are your tech requirements as a student?: We all takes Stage Craft I an introductory course in tech theatre, and after that the MTPs have 2 practicum production credits to complete and the TPs have 4. The TPs also take lighting, sound, costume, and scenic design.

Does your school encourage arts related work outside of your program? If so, do they have someone to help you coordinate this work?:  Summer stock, studying abroad, and regional work is not only encouraged it is expected. Our faculty brings in theatres to audition for summer work. This year we had Wagon Wheel, Farmer’s Alley, Mason Street Warehouse, Big River Shakes, and Timberlake Playhouse to our campus to audition us. We were also encouraged and given guidance on how to apply and get ourselves to New York for Straw Hats and St. Louis for Midwest. The Department is also taking almost twenty students to study in Bournemouth and London this summer.

How many men and how many women are in your class? Is this typical of other current classes in your program?: There are generally more men because there are simply more roles for men. The musical theatre class is generally 14 total (7 men, 7 women it varies.) The theater class is generally 20 total (11 men, 9 women but it varies.) My class has changes so much with people leaving to pursue other things and others transferring in and out it is hard to say.

Does your program have a cut system? If so, how does it work?: No. We do however have a series of reviews where the potential to be cut is present but it rarely occurs. They are not looking to cut students. MTP has a sophomore hearing where at the end of the first musical theatre studies class you basically reaudition for the program. For the TP there are fourth and sixth semester reviews where you access progress.

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?: If someone leaves there spot is almost always held for them.  In the cases I have seen since coming here where a student has gotten work the student was encouraged to go and come back when they are done with the job.

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?: All MTP seniors do a senior showcase in New York and Chicago.

How many classes (or credit hours) do you take based in the arts? How many gen eds?: You should check the website….. Because that is some math we’re talking about

Please share your class schedule with descriptions of your classes: I usually take anywhere between 17-19 credits a semester. For example this last semester I took Jazz 11-12:30 M W F, Directing 2 2-4 M W & 2-5:30 F, 295 Musical Theatre Class 4-5:30 M W F, 9-10:50 Acting III Shakespeare T R, 11-12:20 Script Analysis I T R, and Private Voice 12:30-1:30 T.

Feel free to share anything else about your program that you think is relevant for us to know, or what makes it great: It is an amazing school and I love it. But I’m me and you are you. Before investing your time and money make sure you know what you want in a program, and if a school has what you need. Tour, ask questions, and hold yourself accountable for yourself and your career.

Would students interested in your program be free to contact you? If so, please list your e-mail address: Hit me up! I would love to answer any questions! Nicolas.r.thornton@wmich.edu

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