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University of Illinois BFA Actor Showcase Goes Digital for a Second Year

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The showcase will feature scenes, monologues, and songs performed by the eleven senior acting majors.

University of Illinois BFA Actor Showcase Goes Digital for a Second Year

Broadway's lights went out three hundred and ninety-six days ago. But through lockdown, quarantine, political turmoil, and social justice movements, the senior acting majors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) kept on training. Now, they are ready to share their talent with the industry.

On April 28, 2021, the UIUC BFA Acting Class of 2021 will present their all-digital senior showcase, which will go live on their website, https://uiucshowcase.com at 1:00PM CST. The showcase will feature scenes, monologues, and songs performed by the eleven senior acting majors: Charlee Amacher, Charlie Bauer, William Burke, Latrel Crawford, Fabian Guerrero, Anastasia Kasimos, Jenna Kohn, Caitlin Lydia, Uche Nwansi, Leojae Bleu Steward, and Zoe Replinger.

In pre-COVID-19 times, graduating theatre performance students across the country invited agents and casting directors to gather in a playhouse and experience their showcases live. The pandemic has ushered in the age of the digital showcase. The easily shareable video format allows actors to distribute their work to industry professionals who would not have been able to attend in person.

Casting Director Jeffrey Dreisbach of McCorkle Casting worked with the senior actors from UIUC in January of 2020 for an audition clinic. "Last year, we received invitations to about 125 college showcases in New York City," he said. "With an office staff of five, there's no way we could make it to all of them. Now, the convenience factor is very attractive. We can still evaluate the talent without convening in one place."

Senior acting major Uche Nwansi said, "Digital showcases are great because everything is online right now. We want to make it easy for people to see our work."

The actors shot their scenes on location with professional-level production values. They got more on-camera experience, which was helpful for the actors hoping to launch careers in TV and film. "The process of putting together a filmed showcase is an excellent learning experience for actors whose primary focus has been on stage work," Dreisbach said. "It helps agents and managers see how the talent looks on camera."

Department of Theatre Professor Aaron Muñoz is serving as the director of the senior showcase. "There is a marked difference in this class from when I encountered them as sophomores and now as graduating seniors," Muñoz said. "They have grown and developed as artists, as individuals, as activists. They are ready to enter the ever-shifting professional space."

The COVID-19 pandemic posed an unprecedented challenge for all Americans, but performing artists were hit especially hard. Still, the actors have persisted.

Senior acting major Charlie Bauer said, "The pandemic taught me that art doesn't stop. No matter what the world throws at this industry, the creators will persevere. There will always be new stories to tell."

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's BFA Acting Program is a conservatory-style program that combines intensive training and practical experiences with personalized coaching. Alumni include Nick Offerman (Parks & Rec), Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Theo Germaine (The Politician) & Jon Michael Hill (Steppenwolf ensemble member). Professors include Aaron Muñoz, Nisi Sturgis, Robert Gerard Anderson, Lisa Gaye Dixon, Zev Steinrock, Allison Moody, J.W. Morrissette, Thomas Mitchell, Genesee Spridco, and Sarah Wigley.


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