From Vancouver to Hawaii to Australia

Jess Berzack
Jess Berzack

From the August 2014 Desktop News | How does it feel to perform before thousands of people every night and wake up in a new country every morning? Jess Berzack has one word for it: incredible.

Berzack, a 2014 musical theatre graduate, recently returned from a nine-month contract as a lead singer aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. The cruise ship sailed from Vancouver to Hawaii before spending the majority of its time in and around Sydney, Australia. Berzack traveled throughout Australia and the South Pacific Islands, including visits to Fiji, Tasmania and Vanuatu.

Berzack is one of three very recent graduates of the College’s musical theatre program whose careers have gotten a jump start with their first professional job. Nick Burroughs, a graduating senior, has been cast in a featured role in the Broadway show “Kinky Boots,” also understudying the lead, the legendary Billy Porter. Recent graduate Jessica May is soon to begin a European tour with the musical “Beauty and the Beast,” playing an ensemble part and understudying the lead role.

“Living and working on the ship was incredible,” Berzack said. “I met people from all over the world, performed for thousands of people every night, and got to wake up in different ports and countries every morning.”

Her degree, a bachelor’s in theatre, gave her the tools to skillfully sing, dance and act alongside older and more experienced performers, she said.

“UA’s program gave me the confidence and ability to step out onstage every night and give each show the energy, passion and precision that it deserved,” she said.

Since returning to the United States, Berzack has moved to New York City and is preparing for New York’s audition season while also writing songs. She said moving to New York City has confirmed for her the value of her degree.

“Our alumni are all over the city doing incredible things, from playwriting festivals to performing in solo cabarets and on Broadway,” she said. “I’ve walked into so many agencies and auditions lately where my University of Alabama degree has been recognized and valued because of the amazing achievements that my fellow graduates are accomplishing. The connections that current students will have, if they decide to move to the city, are growing every day. It’s a very exciting time to be a Department of Theatre and Dance graduate.”