This time of year, I get inundated with invites to university showcases. Theatre students from all over the country travel to New York (and usually also Los Angeles) to show off their talents to the casting directors, talent agents, and managers in attendance. There is a lot at stake for the students: this is their opportunity to be seen by dozens, sometimes hundreds of professionals who can help launch their careers. There’s also a lot in it for the professionals as well: I’m always looking for new, fresh talent and showcases can be a good place to find that.
The best advice I can give to actors at showcases is to play to your strengths. Don’t over reach and try to be something you’re not. Every attendee at a showcase is looking for something different, and you won’t be able to please everybody so don’t even try. Do what you do best. Just mix it up a little. I hear the same songs and the same scenes over and over, so you need to go a little off the beaten path for compelling material.
When I go to a university showcase, I’m looking for a few things: an interesting look, a natural quality, and and a sense of poise. I’m mostly looking for natural actors who will work on film and in stage dramas. I have a friend who casts musicals, and she attends these same showcases looking for big, bold physical actors who can sing and move and really command the stage. At the end of the showcase, it’s rare that we liked the same people and that’s okay. It’s great actually because it points out a truth about this business. You can’t be all things to all people, so just be you and do what you do best. The showcase is your chance to shine.