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Kean University

Kean Students and Alumni Take the Stage for New Jersey Theatres

A group of Kean students and recent alumni pose on East Campus.

Kean University theatre students and alumni recently had the chance to audition for representatives from 25 New Jersey professional theatres simultaneously, when they took part in one of the state’s largest annual combined audition events. 

Kean partnered with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance on its two-day Combined Auditions, held at Enlow Recital Hall on the University’s East Campus. Fifteen graduating seniors and recent alumni got coveted audition slots on Tuesday, March 19, the second day of the event, while other New Jersey actors were chosen through a competitive lottery.

“We get slots that are really hard to get,” said Eitan Hiller, a graduating theatre performance senior from Linden. “So it's a really good opportunity for us to grow in our career. Plus it’s right here at Kean.” 

Theatre performance alumnus Christian Cordova ’23, of Elizabeth, flew in from Florida, where he is in the Disney College Program, just to audition. 

“I think it’s awesome that Kean gives us this great opportunity to introduce ourselves to industry professionals and branch out,” Cordova said.

For the past month, students and alumni prepared their audition materials with the help of John Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages at Kean University, and Professor Holly Logue at the Kean Theatre Conservatory. 

“To audition for so many people who could potentially hire you is an incredible opportunity,” Wooten said. “You can only count a few times in the life of an actor where they're going to be afforded the opportunity to not only audition for a casting director and an agent, but also for 25 professional theatres all at the same time.” 

Each actor had three minutes on stage for their auditions, in which they performed two monologues or a monologue and a song. Jessica DeLuca ’22, of Sayreville, a theatre alumna who works as an administrative and literary assistant for Premiere Stages, performed monologues from a comedy and drama. Shortly after the auditions, The Theater Project, in Union, hired DeLuca for a staged reading of a new play in development.

“John Wooten always tells you to have your bag of tricks ready so that you can do anything in the audition if they ask you to,” she said. “So my experience with the University and with Premiere Stages definitely educated me to be a better actor and helped me prepare a lot more for this audition.” 

Following the auditions, performers had a Q&A session with casting director Pat McCorkle and agent Jenna Winnett, both based in New York, to gain insight on the ins-and-outs of the casting process. McCorkle and Winnett encouraged the actors to be curious; “take an extra second” to research the casting professionals they contact; and consider all work that comes their way. 

“Because of Kean’s proximity to New York, we have access and opportunities that many other universities just don't have,” Logue said. “We build a bridge from the academy to the profession. It's not what every university does.” 

Tyler Sautner, a senior theatre student from Linden who performed the song The Streets of Dublin and elicited laughter from the audience with a monologue from the comedy Brighton Beach Memoirs, said he’s proud of his performance and is grateful for the opportunity. 

“I felt really confident with the pieces I presented,” Sautner said. “It's one thing to be in my bedroom, just singing at a wall, but it's another thing to actually get that genuine human reaction from someone as you perform. Auditioning is very hard work, and being able to be at a place where you are able to showcase your work to so many people at once is truly a gift.”