Photography by Katie Loyd
UNCG senior Victoria Pittman performs at the showcase preview event at Feinstein’s/54 Below in
New York City
By Jeff Shafer
The impact of UNCG in the world’s biggest and most important performing arts market was on full display this spring as UNCG Theatre students traveled to New York City for the eighteenth annual Industry Showcase.
The event is an opportunity for soon-to-be graduates to perform in front of top casting and talent agents – representing Broadway, touring theater companies, film and television – and network with alumni who have found great success. It’s a weeklong reunion, of sorts, that proves that Spartans aren’t just making their mark on Broadway. They’re stealing the show.
“It’s a thrill to see so many UNCG alumni making a living in New York and following their dreams of building a rewarding, fulfilling life in the arts,” said Dr. Peter Alexander, dean of UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. “UNCG graduates come to New York with not only a passion for their art, but the right preparation to compete and find success here. It’s also inspiring to witness how talented, professional and focused our current students are in this environment.”
Not only was it a transformative weekend for the sixteen students looking for their big break, but it was an opportunity for many UNCG alumni and friends – hosted by Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. and Alexander – to be treated to some incredible experiences.
At an alumni roundtable, producer Hugh Hysell, actress Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, stage manager Bonnie Becker and others shared stories of their adventures in the Big Apple, the development of their careers and the impact that their UNCG education has had on their success. Universally they credited the faculty at UNCG, the talent of their fellow students and the intensive preparation they received for the competitive drive and capability that have helped them establish meaningful careers in the arts.
Later, nearly 100 alumni joined Chancellor Gilliam and his guests at Feinstein’s/54 Below, located in the basement of the legendary Studio 54, for a preview of the Industry Showcase. Students displayed a wide range of skills – including singing, dramatic acting and comedic performance – that demonstrated the depth and breadth of the talent coming out of UNCG’s School of Theatre.
What’s next for the Broadway hopefuls? More auditions, interviews and meetings with agencies. And if history repeats itself for these young Spartans, the future is bright.