BWW Blog: Whee Tell the Story: My First Semester as a WCU Musical Theatre Major
Upon arrival on August 18th, I was initially flooded with the anxiety that comes with living away from home for the first time. I'm fairly outgoing, but the thought of making new friends, establishing a positive reputation both academically and socially, and creating a new home for myself was daunting. Luckily, I'm a Musical Theatre major, so my first weekend on campus was not lonely whatsoever. Three other Theatre majors lived on my floor, so once I connected with them, we scouted out the other freshman Stage and Screeners, screaming and hugging our new family for the next four years. It was exactly how I imagined it. Bre, one of my closest friends, dropped all of her stuff and yelled "These are my PEOPLE!" and our unit slowly grew into this hilarious squad of geeky thespians.
All of the MTs share an 8-semester plan for coursework within the major, so almost all of my classes were with the same 13 lovely people. My schedule first semester consisted of Tap 1, Acting 1, Musicianship 1, Voice Studio/lessons, Foundations of Stage and Screen (a sort of freshman seminar for the first year Stage and Screen majors), Chorus, Sociology, and Honors Forum (for the honors college). On top of that, we scheduled a weekly time to meet with our accompanist, and I met with two upperclassmen dance tutors once a week each for extra help with tap. Going in, I was worried about doing all things theatre 24/7 because I didn't want to get overwhelmed or burnt out, but now at the end of the semester I am overjoyed to have picked a program that lets me spend this much time doing what I love. It's incredible to be able to feel yourself improving in a matter of months. I don't even know how to describe it without bragging, but I went from barely knowing any tap steps to getting selected for and performing in a student choreographed rhythm tap dance at the Fall Dance Showcase, like how did that happen? Not only did I feel my skills improving, but also my confidence. One would think that an environment of competitive performers would be intimidating, which, I mean, it is, but the freshman class decided from Day 1 that we would not tolerate anything less than 100% support for each other. Whenever one of us gets a callback or cast, we congratulate them, usually by cheering "YES BOOKING" in the group chat. By spending all of our time together, in class and at meals, we became each other's support group throughout the stress and insecurity, because we're the only ones who understand what the others are going through.
In terms of casting/performing, we are all required to audition for all mainstage shows and student films, and are encouraged to take every opportunity to perform. Although I wasn't cast in any of the initial shows, I went to a later audition for a radio play of The Time Machine and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea directed by my Acting professor, Colin Wasmund. It was arguably the most fun I've had at an audition, because it consisted of creating my own alien gibberish language on the spot and conversing in said language. A week later, I found out that my fellow freshman MT Alaina and I were cast, along with three other Stage and Screen students and several adults. We began the rehearsal process in September for a show on Halloween. My part as Weena was mostly me crying in a high pitch voice, but it was a great experience to have my Bardo Arts Center debut and gain experience voice acting. In addition to this main project, I also was asked to perform in some of my upperclassmen friends' directing class scenes, which led to being cast in two Ten Minute Plays, joined the Improv troupe, and signed up to perform at a cabaret. Moral of the story: there was no shortage of opportunities to put myself out there regardless of mainstage casting, which I am grateful for as someone who loves to be busy.
When spring term auditions came around in December, I was determined to be involved in Spring Awakening, directed by Broadway alum Terrence Mann, not just for the experience, but because I am kind of obsessed with the show. Now, I'm very much a soprano, and a freshman, so I didn't have any expectations to be cast, but that didn't deter me from trying. I didn't book it, but I did get called back and cast in two Junior Thesis films, which is crazy awesome! I've never done film before, and it's definitely going to be different than Musical Theatre, but the most important thing I've learned from my experiences first semester is that you have to take advantage of every opportunity to improve because as long as you're working hard and showing growth, you really can't lose.
This upcoming semester, I'm taking Ballet 1, Tap 2, Voice and Articulation, Musicianship 2, Voice Studio/lessons, Philosophy of Love and Sex, Health and Wellness, and plan on taking Dance Tutoring with three upperclassmen. When I get back to campus on Sunday I'll start writing about the every day life of being an MT at Western, get pumped! I'm super excited to get back to work!