COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Alex Vanburen of Austin Peay State University

Most Recently Seen as Riff Raff in Roxy Regional Theatre's THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Vanburen Stars Next in TINY TIM'S CHRISTMAS CAROL

By: Nov. 16, 2023
COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Alex Vanburen of Austin Peay State University

As a theater critic who has been covering the regional scene for more than 35 years, nothing is more gratifying that reviewing productions from local colleges and universities which affords me the opportunity to see young actors as they stretch their wings, show off their innate talents and, well, evolve. Watching these young actors learn and grow is exciting, no matter the roles in which they are cast, but when you see someone in a role for which they are perfectly suited it’s even better.

COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Alex Vanburen of Austin Peay State University For several years, our work for has included columns under our Collegiate Theatrics banner, which allows us to introduce many of these young actors to wider audiences, letting us trumpet their achievements and recognize them for their talents.

Today, we continue to celebrate the return of Collegiate Theatrics featuring one of our favorites from the theatre department at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville: Alex Vanburen, a native of Johnson City, Tennessee, who graduated from APSU last May. We first met Alex when they auditioned for a role in our January 2020 production of La Cage Aux Folles for Circle Players, a role for which they won much acclaim, and whom we most recently saw onstage at Clarksville’s Roxy Regional Theatre, playing Riff Raff in the company’s latest iteration of The Rocky Horror Show.

COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Alex Vanburen of Austin Peay State University
Alex Vanburen

We’re happy to introduce you to Alex Vanburen today and we look forward to showcasing some of our other favorites in the weeks and months to come.

How did you first become involved in theater? I first became involved in theater when I was five-years-old. My mom enrolled me in an acting class, at our local theater, and I immediately fell in love.

What led you to choose to attend Austin Peay State University? I chose Austin Peay because of the people at the school. The second I had my first audition with them, I immediately felt like I would be accepted and loved for exactly who I was.

What’s your college experience been like so far? Has it lived up to its hype? I just recently graduated back in May of this year and all five years absolutely lived up to the hype. You truly don’t realize how college helps shape you into a well-rounded person, that you can be proud of, until the end comes creeping up on you.

What does the future hold for you and how have your goals and aspirations changed since your college experience started? When I started college, my goals were to build myself into the best performer I could be. While that goal hasn’t changed, the college experience definitely added to it. I now not only strive to be my best onstage, but I also strive to be a good person and hope to be able to spread joy in a world that needs it.

COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Alex Vanburen of Austin Peay State University
Alex Vanburen as Riff-Raff in The Rocky Horror Show.

What collegiate theatrical experience has meant the most to you over the years? My last show at Austin Peay was truly magical. I played Roger in A New Brain. I was able to play a character that represented so much good and pushed the boundaries on the concept of gender. It was one of the few times I’ve been able to be on stage and truly live in the moment.

What advice would you offer a high school student considering making the plunge and following your course of study at your school – or any other school, for that matter? I’d say to always follow what your heart wants. If theatre is your passion, then go for it! Also, be patient with yourself. You should never be afraid to fail, growth takes time and you can only grow by falling and learning how to get back up.

What’s your next theatrical project? I am currently in a production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol at the Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville.

What comes next in your career trajectory? My next steps are also my current steps. I am auditioning as much as possible. At such an early point in my career, I am trying my best to make as many important connections as I can.

In our next installment of Collegiate Theatrics, we’ll focus our spotlight on Catie Whittet of Belmont University!

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