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October 15, 2014 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-15

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6B WednesdayOctober15 2014 // The Statement

Curtain call: Life after theatre school
by Paige Pfleger

The world of theatre
is cutthroat. Being
talented isn't always
enough to land a role in the
ipetitive world of profes-
sional performance. Actors
need to look, dress, act and be
the part of the character they're
pretending to be. A whole slew
of factors can throw a wrench
into the best laid plans, espe-
cially when hundreds of people
are competing for the same
The same goes for making it
into theatre school - especial-
ly at the University. Competi-
4AiQ doesn't end once students
are accepted. Throughout the
course of their careers in the
School of Music, Theatre &
Dance, actors audition for hun-
dreds of plays, musicals and
movies. A lot of time, they don't
get cast, but that rejection is all
a part of a learning process.
The culture of theatre school is a lot
like the harsh realities that face actors and
actresses after graduation. But does that
mean that actors and actresses are ready
to face professional challenges by the time
'r-Ouation rolls around?
For actress Jacqueline Toboni, the answer
was a resounding yes.
It was Winter 2014 when Toboni hit her
big break. She had been cast in the Screen
Arts & Cultures 423 film, "Bad Girls," and
Grimm Executive Producer Jim Kouf paid
a visit to the class. He was impressed with
some of the actresses in the film and had
them do a practice audition for a role in the
show, Trubel. Kouf was so taken with Tobo-
ni that he cast her in the role.
Tobani's training at SMTD gave her he
skills to snag the acting opportunity, while
still graduating on time in May 2014.
Currently, she's filming in Portland.
"Not every school would let me do that,"
Toboni said. "I think Michigan is really good
at seeing the bigger picture. They're good at
saying, 'Listen, we're teaching you all of this
stuff, in order for you to get work.' And as an
actor, that's really hard. So when that oppor-
tunity presented itself they encouraged
me to take advantage of that. I think that's
something that is very special, and I don't
know what I would have done if I didn't do
'1 hat's one of the overwhelmingly posi-
tive things about SMTD - through their
coursework and academic opportunities,
the school has been trying to teach their
actors the skills for them to succeed, and if
they find that success earlier than expected,
students are allowed to chase after it.
Music, Theatre & Dance alum CJ Eldred,
a musical theatre major, had a similar expe-

rience to Toboni. He was cast as the stand-
by-for-lead in the first national tour of "Book
of Mormon" the semester before he was sup-
posed to graduate.
"Michigan gave me all of the tools, and all
of the opportunities to really start my career
strong," Eldred said.
But not everyone in the theatre and musi-
cal theatre programs had the same experi-
ences as Toboni and Eldred. Other than
talent, Eldred admitted that something else
comes into play as well - luck.
"I was lucky compared to other people in
my class that I had this fortunate opportu-
nity that there was a show that suited me so
well, and that I also had producers that were
trusting that a kid who hadn't even gradu-
ated college yet could jump in and play the
role," he explained. "I definitely think that
there's the same opportunities for people,
and it's just as possible for anyone in my
class to have had the same thing happen to
Music Theatre & Dance senior Adam
Quinn, specializing in directing within the
theatre performance program, was given the
opportunity to leave and assume a associate
director role in a show during Winter 2014
at 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, and is cur-
rently directing at Goodspeed Opera House
in East Haddam, Conn., widely known as the
home of the American musical.
Even though SMTD let him leave to pur-
sue these opportunities, Quinn didn't feel
as if he was encouraged or appreciated for
doing so. Instead he felt quite the opposite.
"I found that many times, I am looked
at negatively by some people in the depart-
ment," he said. "Not only faculty, but also
students, and the way they think it's sup-
posed to be run versus what is going to give

me the best education possible."
Quinn said he is often times disappointed
in that way that faculty members at SMTD
respond to non-SMTD theatre produc-
tions, like the musical group MUSKET, or
independent Basement Arts that often offer
opportunities to students in and outside of
"The faculty sometimes looks down
on things like MUSKET and Basement
Arts, and I think that's really negative," he
explained. "It's allowing students to become
better. No, they're not being directed by fac-
ulty but sometimes, students can really learn
from other students."
Despite the pushback that he received
when trying to take time off, Quinn admits
that he really couldn't have gotten the same
quality of education at any other school. For
that reason, he says the University's pro-
gram is really unmatched.
"I would not be where I am today," Quinn
said, "and as prepared as I am today to go into
the professional world, than if I didn't go to
school at Michigan and learn from these fac-
ulty members and take these courses and be
given these opportunities," he said.
Music Theatre & Dance senior Teagan
Rose, specializing in acting within the the-
atre performance program, knew Michi-
gan's acting program was the place for her
from the moment she visited campus.
"Michigan was actually the very last place
that I auditioned for, and the last place I vis-
ited, and it was the only place when I came
here, as cliche as it sounds, I had the moment
- the 'this is my school' moment, the feel-
ing in my gut that this is the place that I'm
supposed to be," she said. "It was the faculty,
and the auditions and the campus."
Part of what intrigued Rose the most

about SMTD was the com-
petitive nature and the con-
stant challenges that the
actors face. Difficult shows,
classes, auditions and roles
keep the students constant-
ly on their toes, and, as a
result, constantly improving
and striving to be better.
"I never want to settle on
what I have, I always strive
to be better because I know
I always can be better. So I
find being in a department
where everybody is so tal-
ented, and it is very com-
petitive and the caliber is so
high, it's actually even more
encouraging because it just
makes sure that everybody
is on their A-game."
Rose is looking forward
to a semester full of shows,
including playing the lead
role in the play "Fuenteove-
juna," which centers on
themes of female empowerment. Life after
graduation is still up in the air, but she hopes
to move to California to start her career act-
ing for film or stage.
Even though Music Theatre & Dance
alum Al Fallick made it into the school of
musical theater, which is the most competi-
tive program at SMTD, he isn't doing musi-
cal theatre in his post-grad life. Instead, he's
moved to L.A. to pursue a career in comedy.
"I feel like musical theatre and comedy
are very closely tied," he said. "Some of the
same things that help you succeed in musi-
cal theatre and some of the same things that
help you succeed in comedy: high emotions,
big characters, you know?"
Because there isn't really a graduate
school for comedians, Fallick is taking class-
es at The Groundlings, an improv and sketch
comedy school that has cranked out comedi-
ans like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.
While he's taking classes, he is supporting
himself through a job at Starbucks.
"The big negative, I think, is getting seen
for job interviews that don't have to do with
the industry, when my resume says I am a
musical theatre major."
Unlike Fallick, many of the musical the-
atre majors end up in New York City, audi-
tioning for Broadway productions. Acting
majors are more divided, with some pur-
suing stage plays in New York and others
trying to land roles in TV or movies, like
The upcoming class of graduates will
wind up spread across the country, or even
the nation, trying to use their Michigan edu-
cation to their advantage while auditioning
for shows.
Maybe they'll hit it big. Not all of them do,
but it's like they say - that's show biz, kid.


famous by association:
allow me to introduce myself
A h, fall. Countless autumn- da Bynes over the case studies of
colored leaves, college Freud (Team Mandy 'til the end).
iris in boots toting PSLs For those obsessed with the enig-
and a shitload of classes that you ma that is Kimye (hate allyou want
will no doubt but if you're
sleep your on the cover
way through. of Vogue, you
While we must be doing
are all busy -- something
studying (dar- I I I ISF R right). For the
tying?) away few who can
on our own ALL THE name all of
private island Angelina and
that is Ann H 0 L LY W O0 D _ Brad's kids.
Arbor, it's This is for the
easy to bypass Hollywood-
what's going obsessed
on around junkies who
us. For those JUNKIES W HO care about:
of you who George Cloo-
have been too CA R E A BOUT ney getting
preoccupied married, Bill
in the UGLi G EO RG E Murray being
(Basement weird, Mindy
of some frat? KNaling, James
In bed with C LOO N E Y Franco shav-
Netflix?) and ing his head,
missed out G ETT I NG Ryan Gos-
on the crucial ling naming
happenings in M AR RI ED his kid after
the most elite a third-tier
club there is, Disney char-
La La Land acter and Ben

"The movie that I saw that made me want to be a film maker is called 'Boogie Nights.'
It is about the porn industry in the late '70s, early '80s ... I really love it, it's almost like a
hallucinatory coming-of-age film because he's porn star, which is kind of weird. It was
the first movie that I felt spoke to me and it made me think that I could achieve that sort
of emotional intimacy and sincerity in a film and also have lots of fun stuff."

has been car-
rying on. And
it never disap-
This column will be an outlet
for those of you who would rather
debate the mental state of Aman-

- Affleck prov-
ing to millions
of movie-
goers that he's still got it, and then
some. This should be fun. This will
be entertaining. Next up, I'll be
writing about man buns.


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