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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Broadway is becoming ‘more Wildcat friendly’: Playbill names NU 10th highest represented college on Broadway

Beth Kirkpatrick ’03 (left) was in “Parade,” which won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2023. Photo courtesy of Angel Udelhoven

Northwestern was once again featured on Playbill’s “10 Most Represented Colleges on Broadway” for the 2022-2023 season.

The annual list, released on Sept. 7, names the colleges with the most alumni performing on Broadway for each season. With 29 alums performing on Broadway from May 5, 2022 to April 27, 2023, NU took the 10th spot. It has made the list since the list’s inception.

Anthony Crane (Communication ‘93) made the list for his role on “Between Riverside and Crazy.” He said he sees a lot more NU alums in the industry now than when he graduated, which he attributes to NU grads increasing desire to find jobs in New York –– rather than staying in Chicago.

“[Broadway] is definitely becoming a little bit more Wildcat friendly,” Crane said.

NU shares the honor with schools such as New York University, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University. NU theater is one of the non-conservatories on the list.

Tom Galantich (Communication ‘83) said attending a non-conservatory school was important in allowing him to gain a variety of knowledge. Galantich has been in 10 Broadway shows and most recently performed on standby as Florenz Ziegfield and Tom Keeney in “Funny Girl.”

“The diversity of opportunities at NU is unlike anywhere else,” he said. “It’s huge for an actor to have knowledge of other things.”

NU is also unique as theater students don’t have to audition to be accepted.

Beth Kirkpatrick (Bienen ‘03) attributes NU’s high representation to this difference. She also credited the variety of opportunities NU offers, such as the opportunity for students to create their own shows.

“There are these powerhouse music theater schools, but a lot of them are formulaic in who they let into the school,” Kirkpatrick said. “One of the things I love about NU is when I look at the alumni who I work with … There is no cookie cutter.”

Kirkpatrick was represented on the list for her role in “Parade,” which closed on Aug. 6. She has also understudied for “Les Misérables.”

While she said NU prepared her for her career in many ways, she said she felt underprepared for the business side of performing, which included securing auditions and agents right out of school.

“There was definitely a learning curve,” Kirkpatrick said.

Jim Weitzer (Communication ‘96) made the list for his time in “The Phantom of the Opera.” He also was in the Original Broadway Cast of “Little Women” in 2005.

While he agreed with Kirkpatrick, he said he saw NU’s lower focus on business to have its advantages.

“The program was about giving artists room to have lots of opportunities to try things out,” Weitzer said. “There was this sort of freedom … It was much less about the business and ticking all of the boxes.”

Raymond Lee (Communication ‘04) has been in five Broadway shows and is currently in “Sweeney Todd.”

He said the NU alumni community provides immediate connections in the industry.

“Our community feels like the Avengers, with the understanding between all of us, ” Lee said. “The camaraderie is really cool … There’s this bond.”

Kirkpatrick, who returned for her 20th reunion this past alumni weekend, said she’s especially proud to be a part of the community.

She said she hopes students with Broadway aspirations, as well as other NU alums, follow what makes them happy to have fulfilling careers.

“Find your joy,” Kirkpatrick said. “I check in with myself regularly. Am I still loving it? Is it still worth it? … Then the rest of it is figuring out how to make it joyful.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emilymlichty

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