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Collegiate Theatrics: Millikin University's JOSEPH J. BEZENEK


With his final semester of collegiate study still ahead, Millikin University student Joseph J. Bezenek is clearly looking forward, making plans for his future - but make no mistake about, the talented theater student who hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, still has his attention focused squarely on what's to come before he leaves the Millikin campus in Decatur, Illinois.

With roles as diverse as Alex in Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed, Angelo in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Adam in Steven Dietz' Yankee Tavern - along with such iconic musical theater roles as The Music Man's Harold Hill and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast - his onstage versatility is obvious. But what's most impressive about Bezenek is his focus on what will make him a good performer, an even better actor and what adventures he will undertake once he has his degree in hand.

Here's your opportunity to get to know Joe Bezenek before his marquee-ready name lights up the proverbial sky in this week's edition of Collegiate Theatrics.

Has your college career lived up to its advance hype and/or notices? My college career has been a huge success. Millikin University has lived up to its hype in regards to "preparation for the world," because Millikin - and all that college life entails - has taught me to be a human being. Stella Adler says, "The growth of an actor is simultaneous to the growth of a human being", and with this, I have grown into a man of love, and in turn, an artist of passion.

What's been the best part of your time at Millikin University? My favorite part of studying at Millikin University is having faculty that won't accept my average work, only spectacular - while at the same time, these are the same faculty I can truly call friends. These individuals have been more than just teachers of craft; they have been parents of guidance. I can't imagine going through the rigorous art of theatre without having first been led by Millikin's faculty and staff.

Have your career path or plans for the future been altered due to your collegiate experiences? Have my future plans changed since my college experiences? My future plans have changed between the time I started this sentence, and when I finished it! I'm kidding, but truly, my plans have changed hundreds of times. However, I have a very solid idea on the direction I would like to take my career upon graduation. With that, I am very aware of the uncertainty in this field - but that excites me. If I knew exactly what I was going to be doing for the next five or ten years of my life, I would feel a lack of adventure in my future. I'm happy I can't tell you exactly what I will be doing even eight months from now.

Which moment in time from your college years looms largest in your mind today? I must say the collegiate theatrical moment looming largest in my mind is the moment I opened [title of show]. It was the first show I had ever directed, and I have never in my life been so proud - not of my own work - but of the work that my cast and crew put into making that production happen. I have the opportunity to direct my acting professor, Alex Miller, and one of my very best friends, Ryan Reid, in "Red" in just a couple of weeks, and I can only imagine the opening of this show will be one of the most incredible moments of my entire life.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring theater artist, younger than you, who seeks your guidance on choosing a school? There are a ton of incredible programs and institutions out there. Wherever you go, as long as you have done your research, you will see that there isn't a bad choice to make in regards to the training you will receive at any given institution. With that, my advice is this: Go to the institution that you feel most "you." Visit the school. Visit the school. Visit the school. Watch a show - see their work. They say "you can feel it" when you know what school is yours...I say, you need to be aware of what school made you feel like your best self. What school made you feel comfortable talking to students, and faculty? What school did students and faculty feel comfortable talking to you? With the level of vulnerability you have to reach in this art - not to mention the vulnerability that comes with going through college itself - you need to be at an institution where you feel comfortable taking giant leaps of faith. Only then will you become the person you want to be, and in turn, the artist you have the possibility of becoming.

Editor's Note: To keep up with this impressive young actor's career, go to and lock it in, bookmark it - whatever people do these days - to keep abreast of his theatrical journey.

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