Looking for a Break in the Big Apple

While many of us reserve spring break for partying, tanning, or tackling chores, each year a group of UA theatre students fly to New York to participate in the opportunity of a lifetime — a showcase known as Bama on Broadway.

Bama on Broadway is designed to highlight the strengths of each student’s skill as they perform for an audience that includes Broadway talent agents and often ends with performers signing contracts or being called back for auditions.

“We get a year’s worth of putting our face in front of people in one day,” said Tommy Walker, one of this year’s participants.

Preparation begins well in advance. Last August, John Paul Snead enrolled with other participants in a one-hour course designed specifically to ready them for Bama on Broadway.  “To prepare for the showcase, we get ourselves together with partners and we look for material,” says Snead. “We look for scenes and monologues and songs that best show the work that we can do.” After selecting their pieces, the actors began rehearsing, refining and reshaping their performances for months.

For most of the students performing at Bama on Broadway, however, the journey to that big performance began even further back. Rebecca Kling, a third-year MFA student and instructor of undergraduate theatre courses, says that her career began when she was just 10 years old. After seeing an audition posting at her school, Kling begged her parents for the opportunity to try out. “My parents wouldn’t let me play football,” she jokes. “So I got involved in theater, and the rest is history.”

Walker’s passion for acting began even earlier. “I would say I’ve been silly and acting out in front of everyone my entire life,” he says.

“I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I wasn’t doing theatre,” Snead agrees.

To have a lifelong career culminate in a single performance means a great deal of pressure — but Kling, Snead, and Walker don’t show it. All three cite preparation as the key to thwarting anxiety.

“It’s definitely stressful knowing that you’re performing in New York City in front of casting directors and in front of agents,” admits Kling. “You just have to trust that you’ve put in the work.”

Walker commented on the then-looming showcase with a statement that now describes the students’ Broadway careers. “I feel we are very ready.”