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the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

How to take the road less traveled

So close to the finish line, yet still so far away
Sarabeth Wester
At a crossroads

It’s that time again. Seniors are wrapping up their year, announcing their final college decisions, and planning the next leg of their journey. However, for those of us pursuing a BFA in musical theatre, the final decisions may still seem miles ahead. Graduation is near and I still don’t know where I’ll end up.

I began applying to various BFA programs last fall, making pre-screen videos, and auditioning on college campuses for a handful of prospects. But that was just the warm-up. In January, I traveled to FIU in Miami to attend Florida Combined where dozens of schools held their auditions in a single location. During a three-day period, I auditioned multiple times performing monologues, songs, and dance. Each school wanted a little something different, so my repertoire ranged from pop music and Broadway hits to Shakespeare and stage classics. Overall, it was a great experience that allowed me to check off several schools on my list. My next round was scheduled for early February during an event called National Unified Auditions. It’s the same concept as Florida Combined, but with more schools attending and more intensity to the process overall. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, I never made it there and the remainder of my auditions were either canceled or rescheduled to a virtual forum.  

In theatre, performers must learn to pivot, but I would be lying if I said this was easy. Virtual auditions are extremely difficult to pull off and several schools don’t even allow them for that very reason. Some of the schools who passed me on pre-screen would not allow me to audition virtually. So that was the end of the road.

 My overall virtual audition experience was a mixed bag. Trying to connect with a person over a screen is quite difficult. It’s not necessarily perceived as intimate as it would be standing right before them in the room. Add to that technology issues like internet speed, zoom glitches or my backing tracks not playing as they should. No matter how well prepared I was, there was a chance something could go wrong and kill my chances of getting into a particular college. For at least one of my auditions, this was absolutely the case. I just had to get over it and move on.

For those students who are thinking a BFA in musical theatre may be in your future, it will be essential to your success to stay focused and keep your eye on the end goal. The audition process is not for the weak. It quadruples the work in terms of essay writing, college visits, and interviews. You’ll likely apply to over 20 schools, be accepted to most academically, and hope you get at least a small handful of BFA program acceptances to choose from in the end. But the most challenging part is to not doubt yourself along the way. As we all know, we’re our own worst critics. For me, this experience has really been a test of how much I believed in myself, and how much I trusted that who I am, and what I’m made of, is enough. I absolutely loved sharing my talents and skills with those I auditioned for, but keeping the energy and enthusiasm high was hard.

I had my final audition on April 12th with a school that had accepted me academically last fall. A week later, I learned I had received acceptance to the BFA program as well. I am still waiting to hear back from three schools, and I’m still in the process of receiving offers from several others.

As I reflect on my overall experience, I can say this less traveled road isn’t easy and the uncertainty of it all is stressful. But I’ve always tried to teach myself to look at things differently and with a bigger lens. While I can dream, sometimes it’s better to be realistic. Hearing a “no” is never easy, but in this process, you will hear it way more than you do a “yes.”

I’ve broken down a few times.

Though the circumstances may never be ideal, I’m now able to understand more about myself and what I truly want. When the darkness is cast upon one opportunity, there will be light shown upon another. In my heart, I believe that I will end up where I’m meant to be.

While the wait isn’t over, I can safely say that I’m hopeful and looking forward to what’s to come. I’m not a fortune teller, and I don’t know what lies on the road ahead of me. But all I can say is that I’m willing to make that jump and see where the wind carries me. To those who will make this journey after me, break legs and don’t listen to the negative noise. You’ve got this.

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About the Contributors
Cassidy Miller
Cassidy Miller, Associate Editor, Podcaster and Staff Writer
Cassidy is a senior at Saint Stephen's, and a returning member of The Gauntlet after two years. Miller is now an Associate Editor for The Gauntlet. She's an active host of a podcast called Share Your Voice which centers around stories of kindness and its importance in our world. Additionally, she's an active member of the theater community, working towards her dreams of being an actress on Broadway. Currently, Miller is working on numerous auditions and workshop materials for the Musical Theatre College Audition season. It's going to be a busy year for her, but she's thrilled and hopeful for the road ahead. Miller's favorite musical is Hadestown.
Sarabeth Wester
Sarabeth Wester, Creative Director/Artist
Sarabeth Wester is a senior on The Gauntlet with four years under her belt of hard work in the newsroom as our Creative Director. Her favorite color is purple, she has a cat and a dog who she loves dearly, and she plays video games in her free time - her favorite being Fallout 4 even with it's imperfections. Her favorite movies are Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and Wall-E - she believes everyone should watch them at least once.  

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