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BWW Blog: WCSU MT - A Showstopping Cast

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Get to know more about WestConn through the eyes, experiences and insight of some of the people I love.

BWW Blog: WCSU MT - A Showstopping Cast

Welcome back to Life in the Key of B with Bella Bosco! Today's post is coming to you live from WCSU in Connecticut. We've been back for just over a month, and I can't believe how fast the semester is flying by!

The news of Broadway's extended shutdown is devastating for all of us who love the arts. While our lives, studies and experiences as students are different right now because of COVID, I worry more about those whose livelihood depends on the work that can't happen right now. I ask you to explore how best to show your support for ALL of the artists, performers, musicians, designers and professionals whose lives continue to be in a frightening holding pattern. Whether you can make a monetary gift or support of those advocating on behalf of our industry -- please do something.

The one thing that I'm becoming increasingly aware of as we work our way through a global pandemic and continuing racial injustices is how important it is that we use our voice, we take action and we take care of one another.

On a personal note, the thing that has helped me get through my 5 weeks of isolation and many of my worries about the future was the thought of reuniting with my friends. In this post, I thought it would be interesting for you to meet fellow WCSU students so you can get to know more about WestConn through the eyes, experiences and insight of some of the people I love.

As the Class of 2021 starts their final year, I asked them to share their thoughts about the unique and interesting paths that defined their four years at WestConn. Their question: "How has WestConn prepared you for life in the business after graduation?"

BWW Blog: WCSU MT - A Showstopping Cast
Tony Harkin in WCSU's production of
The 25th Annual
Putnam County Spelling Bee

"One of the most fantastic courses taken at WCSU was the Senior Transition Workshop, taught by Professor Tim Howard. In this course, you explore the workings on how to move from educational theatre to professional work, by learning about everything from the best outfits to wear at an audition to how to file your taxes. WCSU is also great at teaching students HOW to audition, and they encourage finding work and making connections before you graduate. I consider WCSU to be the main reason I have had the opportunity to work professionally already, gaining 16 EMC points before my senior year."

~Tony Harkin
Follow Tony on Instagram: @tonyfharkin

Tony is a dear friend and is quite arguably one of the most organized and put together people I know. This semester, we've been catching up for a cup of coffee--sitting safely outside-- to support Rumors, a local coffeehouse.

Next up, meet Fran Saccamagno, a senior on the go with her own podcast who also loves working as an HBO rep on campus!

BWW Blog: WCSU MT - A Showstopping Cast

"As a senior at Westconn I owe EVERYTHING to our amazing faculty. Everything about this entire year was unexpected. The only thing I could expect for the upcoming semester was the hardwork and dedication from my professors. While attending Western I realized professors would go above and beyond for their students. This is why when we received the unfortunate news of going online for learning I didn't doubt for one second that I would still be receiving the same instruction.

All of our professors are industry professionals, having Broadway, Regional theatre credits, and more. It is very important to learn from professors that know business like the back of their hand. The faculty at WCSU is always leading me down the right paths and pushing me to do my best. I know that they have my best interest at heart and want to see me succeed. As a senior, I look back at all I have learned from our professors and I feel more than prepared to enter the next chapter of my life. I look forward to attending my senior showcase in the spring!"

~Fran Saccomagno
Follow Fran on Instagram: @fransaccomagno

"When I started, I thought I would be based out of NYC. And while that's still true to a point, in that I will never turn down an audition in the city, I have slowly learned that I probably don't want to just be in NYC. If I can afford it, I will probably be auditioning all over the country, or at least New England (and NYC, of course) for anything I can get my hands on. And now that self-taping is becoming so prominent, I don't have to exactly be worried where I am. Because of this, I have learned that it doesn't matter WHERE I live, so long as I can audition for anything and everything I can."

~ Ryan Rappaport
Follow Ryan on Instagram: @ryan.rappaport and YouTube at Ryan Rappaport.

Ryan was featured in WCSU's fall 2019 production of The 1940s Radio Hour! He was incredible in the show, and has such a gorgeous voice!

The Class of 2022, WCSU Juniors

Only one year ahead of my class, the juniors helped me and my fellow classmates adjust last year by always setting a positive example. As a class, they work so well together, and demonstrate a true team effort for all of us to use to strive toward achieving.

Their question: "What's been your favorite WestConn show experience and why was it important or meaningful for you?"

"My favorite WestConn show experience was my first semester when I was cast as the understudy for Leaf Conibear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I couldn't believe I was actually cast and it was my dream role. And finally stepping out on the main stage for the first time for our understudy performance and hearing all my friends cheer for me was literally pure magic and serotonin. It was such a fun rehearsal process and I have such amazing memories of that show!"

~Logan Farley
Follow Logan on Instagram: @loganfarleyofficial

Next up, Derek Alexander, another dear friend and someone who ALWAYS makes me laugh!

"My favorite show experience at WCSU would have to be performing in Crazy for You. The enormous ensemble dance numbers required many hours of practice. Fulfilling the role of Everett Baker, it was amazing to watch the cast develop such a gorgeous show. Under the direction of Elizabeth Parkinson and Scott Wise, the entire cast felt tremendously accomplished by the end of the run."

~ Derek Alexander
Follow Derek on Instagram: @derekalexanda

WCSU's production of Crazy For You was another important reason I chose WestConn. I was amazed by the quality of the production and the talent. I actually met Tony, Logan and Derek for the first time at this show! Derek's sense of humor made me feel so comfortable, and the support and kindness of Tony, Derek and Logan and all of students in this program is a huge reason I'm here.

Next up, meet actor extraordinaire, Sam Rogers, with the most immaculate vibes! He recently performed in A Little Night Music, Much Ado About Nothing, and will be in this semester's virtual production of Radium Girls: A Jaw Dropping Musical! Sam shares his thoughts about being in Uncle Vanya:

"One of my favorite things about performing in Uncle Vanya was that every actor, together, created an atmosphere on stage where every moment of discovery and response was slightly different each night. Every moment was true and genuine in a different way and it was so exciting to go on the stage each night searching for the little nuances that changed each night."

~Sam Rogers
Follow Sam on Instagram: @sr0gers

And finally, I asked my peers in my own sophomore class of 2023 the following: "What would you say was the most important moment of growth after your first year as a BFA MT student at WestConn?"

"I feel like my first year at WCSU not only helped me grow as a performer, but as a person. I think the most influential part of my first year experience was getting to swing the female ensemble members in our production of A Little Night Music. It was an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and truly push myself in all three major aspects of musical theatre (singing, acting and dance) having to learn three different tracks in such a small amount of time. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world."

~Sydney Mahr
Follow Syd on Instagram: @sydneymhr

Sydney Mahr, a soprano who's defining characteristic is, in her words, being quirky. Syd and I share a love of coffee and catching up during a walk in our lovely Ives Concert Park.

Liv Rando can be wise beyond her years, and I'm lucky to have her as my roommate. We love a good movie night. Last year, we won tickets to see Jimmy Fallon and had such a fun adventure before everything changed.

"I've grown in the sense that I've come to realize that it's okay to be unsure of my path in this industry. It's been easy to second guess myself since the spring semester ended, but I think all of this has helped me accept and appreciate the unknown."

~Liv Rando
Follow Liv on Instagram: @livyrando

"The moment I grew the most during my freshman year at WCSU was when I realized what made me unique as a performer, and when I got really specific about what I was offering in this industry. Because this program is so geared towards individualism and "being the best you," I was able to learn who I really am as a performer, and how I could use my quirks to stand out!"

~Victoria D'Orazio
Follow Victoria on Instagram: @victoriadorazio_

As I mentioned in my first post, Tim Howard, our MT program director, has a philosophy that our work is about "becoming the best YOU." I hope you can see that all of these WCSU students have done important work to help us find more of what that might mean for each of us.

Whether you're a Theatre or MT college student or you're a senior in high school who is hoping to find your perfect college fit -- I hope you'll be fortunate to have friends, teachers and work that inspire you as much as I have found at WestConn. Until we can return to more of what we love, let's keep working and advocating for the arts.

Here are my check ins for this week:

1. What's feeding my soul?

a. I am just so happy to be taking in-person classes, and to be back with my friends! I recently started rehearsals for the virtual production I was cast in this semester. All of our productions this semester are new works, all written by

underrepresented artists. The production I'm in is titled, In The Open, written by Mona Mansour, and directed by the amazing Kimille Howard, an exciting and accomplished guest director. I'm so excited to be learning and working with Ms. Howard and we're all finding our way together in a virtual rehearsal world. More to come on our fall season in a future post!

2. What am I listening to?

a. I have been listening to an Icelandic band, Sigur Ros, a lot lately. They are featured on the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies, We Bought A Zoo. I rediscovered my love for their music while watching Beautiful Boy, as they are also featured on that soundtrack. Their work is beautiful and calming and I've been enjoying it everywhere -- from walking across campus to the soundtrack of my studying and cooking!

3. What arts programming have I watched recently?

a. One of the classes I'm taking this semester is an MT Studio, a place where all of the Musical Theatre students go in a rotation of performing for each other. I don't get the opportunity to hear many of them sing unless I'm seeing them in one of our productions. This class has been a way for me to see all the talent we have at school, and it's incredible to see the creative process throughout the different class levels.

b. To add, I mentioned above that I recently watched Beautiful Boy for the first time with my roommate, Liv. While it was a painful movie, I was so impressed by Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrell's performances. Their powerful work has stayed with me.

Thank you so much for tuning in! I have a lot planned for the future as our school is currently in the process of rehearsing FIVE all virtual, all new works.

As always, send any questions to bellaboscoblog@gmail.com

~Bella Bosco

Instagram: @thebellabosco

Twitter: @thebellabosco


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