The next gen of performers (and their schools) are serious, yo.
In the early 80’s, Professional Sports Teams and Universities started looking a little younger for their future superstars. Scouts started heading out at middle school playgrounds, and kids were tracked from the age of twelve. It has blown up since, with sites like ScoutsFocus.com posting videos of 11 year old Julian Newman, who plays on his high school (!) varsity team.
Professional Sports are big business, so it only makes sense that the scouting and training systems have gotten more serious.
I’m seeing a similar trend in the professional theater, which is also big ol’ business. We may not have shoe contracts to give to our “players,” but there’s still a lot of rewards for a successful career that starts in the theater. Just ask Kristin Chenoweth, Nathan Lane, Lea Michele, Nick Jonas, Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh “Huge Career” Jackman. Oh, and an actor’s career is a heck of a lot longer than an athlete’s.
Not only are there more and more training programs poppin’ up at colleges and universities all over the country (when I was at Tisch, musical theater wasn’t even a four year program, and this was one of the top drama schools in the country!), but we’ve got The Jimmys (the high school “Tony Award”), and more musical theater camps than ever before.
It’s getting serious, yo. (Side note – all of this is awesome for developing our future audience, btw).
Want a specific example?
It’s Spring Showcase season here in NYC, which means a whole bunch of those colleges and universities come into the city with a bus load of seniors to show the city what they’ve got. They perform songs and such for agents, casting directors and producers (our version of “scouts”), and some get scooped up right there.
I get invites to showcases all the time. And yesterday, one popped up in my inbox that got my attention.
Indiana University and Baldwin Wallace teamed up to do a showcase together, and they sent this sharp looking email to get my attention. But that’s only the start of it. Check out the website that Baldwin Wallace put together JUST to showcase their seniors. I mean, this sucker is better than a lot of show websites I’ve seen! I spent a good ten minutes clicking on the kids and watching them move (and believe me, I had plenty of other stuff to do). And IU’s is no slouch either.
These schools and these students aren’t messin’ around. They are taking their futures seriously. They know that, like athletes, they are entering into a cut-throat industry with a lot at stake. . . and they are doing everything they can to get a Rockette-like leg up on the competition.
I’m glad I’m not an actor anymore.
Because the kids are coming, the kids are coming. And they aren’t “playing” around.
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