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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jordan

If you didn't, you're not alone. It is one of those things that has tectonic impact that goes largely unnoticed. What am I talking about? The new innovation that is happening right here in north Texas. Except, that's not entirely true- because it's happening all across the U.S. "Virtually." When Covid shut down travel and so many aspects of person to person contact, it presented a problem: how were graduating high school students going to audition and apply for college theater programs? How were college faculty going to connect with high school students? College Audition Prep Weekend (CAPW) had gone virtual the previous summer for our summer program which brings students from across Texas and beyond with college theater faculty from across the U.S. to preview their programs and work on developing their audition skills with the very people they would later be auditioning for. Sort of, "speed dating" for college. The students get some excellent feedback from faculty with Broadway backgrounds and years of college teaching experience and the faculty get a preview of the talent that is coming their way in a year or two.

Then the North Texas Drama Auditions(NTDA)- a staple audition event for many years- closed up shop, leaving a void for students in north Texas trying to connect with colleges. It didn't take long for locals to approach CAPW to suggest their model could be applied to the college audition market. Taking what we had learned from going virtual during the Covid shut downs, we realized we could bring something new to the party. One of the important aspects of NTDA's mission was to make colleges accessible to a wide spectrum of students from all economic backgrounds. Applying a live/via Zoom audition model allowed students to be seen by an equally broad spectrum of college theater programs, literally from coast to coast. (You can see a full list of the 34 participating college theater programs at Not only does it save students' families money spent on traveling to distant cities and campuses, but it saves college faculty having to spend money traveling on so many recruiting trips.

This week from their classrooms, living rooms and bedrooms, with the help of teachers and each other, students will be singing into the cameras of their laptops as a hundred college directors sitting in their offices around the country watch, taking notes. After the student sings and performs his monologues, calls, texts and emails go out extending invitations to callback interviews which will lead to next steps in the acceptance process for these college programs.

Sure, ideally, everyone would love to be together live, in the same room auditioning. But in the real world, this is an economical alternative that actually provides more opportunity for more students and colleges to come together in a relaxed forum. Colleges can follow up with students they are interested in and it's a more efficacious use of everyone's time. Furthermore, professional auditions for commercials, films and theater are happening more and more by video submission. So students are going to have to develop virtual audition skills anyway. So will virtual auditions replace in-person auditions? No, but they will certainly be in integral first (and maybe second) step in the process in the 21st century. There is every reason to anticipate that this trend will continue and expand in years to come. After all, money saved from travel can be applied to scholarships and other areas of a college budget.

If your wondering where some of those students are going to end up? Follow this blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We'll be highlighting some of our students as they go on their college journey and beyond as they work to break into the entertainment industry.

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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jordan

After over two decades of helping young north Texas performers connect with college theater programs, the North Texas Drama Auditions (NTDA) have ceased operation. Rather than lose the opportunity for these talented young high school seniors to show off their talents, we have decided to take up the baton and carry forward with the newly coined National College Audition. So NTDA is now NATCA. With the recent addition of Oklahoma City University to our roster of colleges, we now have 31 BA and BFA programs from across the U.S. participating.

When students upload their prescreen videos and materials with their application, their materials will be seen by EVERY participating college. Students only pay a one time registration fee instead of every time they send their materials to a college. Auditions will be live/via Zoom, so both students and college faculty will be spared the expense of travel. Faculty will have student contact information and will reach out to them directly to schedule call back interviews.

Thanks to the technical innovations developed because of Covid, we can now create an easy, economical opportunity for colleges and students to come together for auditions and interviews.

The line-up of colleges for for NATCA 2021include: Abilene Christian University, Anderson USC School of the Arts, Centenary College of Louisiana, East Carolina University, Hardin-Simmons University, Indiana State University, Lindenwood University, Long Island University, Missouri State University, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Oakland University, Ohio Northern University, Oklahoma City University, Pepperdine University, Sam Houston State University, Slippery Rock University, Southern Methodist University, St. Edwards University, Stephens College, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, Texas Wesleyan University, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Houston, University of Memphis, University of Utah, University of Texas El Paso, University of Texas Arlington, and West Texas A&M University.

For more information or to register, visit

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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jordan

Texas has long been known for the "Friday night lights" of high school football stadiums across the state. As the evenings get cooler, parents and fans gather to watch young men kick the pigskin through the goal posts. But stadium lights aren't the only ones burning bright- in hundreds of high school auditoriums the footlights- and spotlights- cast a bright light on young performers trodding the boards and doing high kicks and pratfalls as the season for high school musical productions and fall plays gets into full swing.

Over the last few decades the popularity of high school musicals (as well as the sophistication) has grown, spurred by local, regional, state-wide or national high school musical theatre award (HSMTA) competitions sponsored by various nonprofit theatre organizations and, on a national level, The Broadway League. Nonprofits have realized this is where you build your audience of the future and connect with your community. Make no mistake, it's serious business, with some of the productions spending into the tens of thousands of dollars and students competing for trophies, yes, but also scholarships to college theater programs. And the colleges are taking note as well- the next step for many of these student performers is auditioning for college theater BA and BFA programs with a view of pursuing a professional career.

Indeed, currently, there are three area high school grads who followed their performing ambitions through college and are now working professionally. Plano West HS & Texas State U. grad Chris Clark is playing the lead in the national tour of Escape to Margaritaville, and this week saw Waxahachie HS and Oklahoma City U. grad Blake Sauceda's opening night on the national tour of the musical An Officer and a Gentleman, and Guyer HS and Texas State grad John Fredrickson open the off-Broadway production of Mike and Mindy's Wild Weekend Jam.

From left to right, Blake Sauceda, Chris Clark (with guitar), John Fredrickson (at left)

Clear evidence that you'd better catch these performances while the kids are in high school- you can say you, "...saw 'em when..." because you'll be paying big bucks to see them in professional productions soon enough! And that is actually our point: many of the performances you see on area high school stages are already approaching professional quality with strong singing and acting, not to mention dancing, going on. With sets and costumes built by the students themselves, you may often wonder, is this an amateur or pro show I'm watching? You really can't beat the entertainment value, and considering some of what passes for television fare these days, you're much better off catching a high school show- and parents- it IS something you can take the whole family to. "Where can I see who's playing," you ask? Check out Texas High School Theater group page on Facebook: we share photos, posts and info on performance dates/schools/locations. Check it out! And we'll see you at the Friday night footlights!

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