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Seniors perform for entertainment industry professionals in New York City

Seniors perform for entertainment industry professionals in New York City

Otterbein Theatre and Dance students showed off their performing chops in New York City recently.

Thirteen talented seniors took the stage on March 28, but this time the audience was a little different. Close to 100 entertainment industry professionals filled The Pershing Square Signature Center’s Irene Diamond Stage audience in hopes of finding new talent for stage and film.

“It’s a very competitive environment for university showcases in New York City,” said Elizabeth Saltzgiver, audience services director at Otterbein. “We try to schedule our showcase on days that don’t conflict with other productions. This year we couldn’t avoid going up against one other larger school, but our turn-out shows that we are among the top tier institutions.”

Each student is given three minutes on stage to do any performances of their choosing, whether it’s a monologue, song, dance number or anything in between. The casting agents, talent agents and talent managers have the opportunity to connect with the students after their performances in person or via phone to set-up appointments and negotiate future deals.

“We tell the students this is their chance to put forth the best material they can to a captive audience. Reviews from this year’s showcase have been wonderful. Almost every single Otterbein student has been in for an interview or has received calls from agents or managers,” said Saltzgiver.

Jordan Donica, a senior BFA musical theatre student, says the showcase gave him one more opportunity to really cut loose and not worry about anything while on stage.

“I was really able to get out of my own head and not solely focus on what my body was doing or if I’m shaking too much or whatever. We were all super comfortable up there and I feel it really translated to the audience,” Donica said. “I felt just like I would standing on stage in Cowan Hall.”

Senior BFA acting student Mason Smajstria was very excited at the prospect of choosing her own pieces for the showcase. This way, says Smajstria, she and her classmates can better highlight each of their own styles and approaches to performing.

“It makes the show that much more personally fun and hopefully agents pick up on that,” Smajstria says. “It’s also a really nice farewell to our collegiate acting career and our classmates. We’ve been in so many productions together. We get to see all that hard work transition into the real world.”

Coupled with the professionally managed mainstage productions, Smajstria credits her readiness for the showcase to Otterbein’s focus on not pigeonholing students to just one aspect of performing arts. Theatre and Dance students are encouraged to explore not only acting, but also dance, singing, recording and writing courses to build a rich portfolio of skills.

“As a BFA acting student, I always felt like I was being trained and learning something new, even when not taking major-specific courses. Our evaluations with all the performing arts faculty also gave me vital feedback from everyone on my strengths and weaknesses as a performer, but in a really supportive way.”

No matter the outcomes from the New York City Showcase, Otterbein students will enter the performing arts world ready for anything.

“I feel so much more ready than I ever anticipated I would at this point,” said Donica. “Otterbein got us in the right mindset to hit the ground running. The level of preparation it takes to succeed on campus mimics what will happen in our careers.”


Learn more about Theatre and Dance at Otterbein on the department website