If you’ve been wondering why there are flyers plastered across campus of John Millsap and Mitchell Spencer looking lovingly toward each other, then you’ve encountered one of the many advertisements for UT’s senior showcases.
One of the graduation requirements for UT’s B.A. in musical theater and theater majors is that every student plans and performs their own senior showcase. The showcases can include duets, giving opportunities for seniors to collaborate with their friends within the department. However, two-thirds of the show must consist of solo performances by the senior. The seniors plan their showcases entirely on their own, which can be an overwhelming process.
“You have to pick a date that works for you and the music department,” senior Emily Peduto said. “You then have to find an accompanist to play for the showcase. You have to then pick the songs and learn them. You also have to do a program and poster to advertise the event.”
The students also have to book their own venue for the show, as well as coordinate the costumes, set-up, and lighting. These seniors essentially create and plan a complete stage performance, and everything that goes with that, all on their own.The students get to choose all of the solos, duets, and group numbers that they perform. Whether it’s a musical theater or a theater major, the seniors focus on choosing songs or scenes that showcase their range and ability.
Senior Elisha Sayed said, “For me, personally, I not only choose a song because I love it but I also ask myself how well it shows off my range and my style of singing. I want people to see me in my best light and how much I’ve developed through my four years of training so I always say to myself, ‘Does this song do just that?’”
Some students even choose to dedicate songs or scenes to family or friends. Senior Kristen Walker is dedicating a song to her fiancé, and Peduto dedicated most of her showcase to her family.
“The whole second half of my showcase were songs for my family so I loved singing them and seeing their faces while I was singing them was priceless,” Peduto said.
Another way students choose to plan their showcase is by choosing a theme that they base their selections around.
“Each song has to do with either a new chapter in life, a journey to find love or accepting yourself,” Walker said. “The name of my showcase is ‘There will be Light.’ I named it that to depict my journey through the tough challenges in my life toward graduating college, showing that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
This year, the senior showcases are particularly special because it’s the last year that everyone in the department gets to perform their own showcase. Next year the seniors will perform collective showcases that consist mostly of group numbers where each senior will get to perform one solo that showcases their individual ability.
Regardless of the format, the season of senior showcases is a sentimental time for UT’s Theater Department.
“I viewed this as my final bow here at UT and hoped that through my involvements and my work, I made an impact on someone’s life in one way or another,” Sayed said.
Kara Delemeester can be reached at Kara.Delemeester@spartans.ut.edu.