College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Theatre Department Brings Broadway Into the Classroom

Skype puts theatre students in touch with working professionals for real-world perspectives

NOVEMBER 20, 2015 | By CHRISTINA STEUBE

Photo of Broadway by Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Times Square/Broadway by Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons

The University of Mississippi Department of Theatre Arts is giving students an opportunity to interact with professionals by bringing Broadway to the classroom via Skype.

Courtney Reed, performing as Jasmine in the Broadway show “Aladdin,” and Broadway actress Kate Loprest from “Hairspray,” “First Date” and “Wonderland,” have participated in the Skype sessions so far, theatre arts visiting assistant professor Seth Lieber said. Several more sessions with other actors are in the works.

The Skype sessions allow students to ask questions to professionals and address concerns about life after college, Lieber said. When he was starting his career in the industry, it was important to learn from people in the business, he said.

“There is a real importance in hearing the voice of working professionals,” Lieber said. “Trends change, practices change and we need to keep the student updated on all of this. What I’ve really enjoyed seeing is my students become reinspired in the classroom. Students come back to class after a Skype session ready to dive in.”

Theatre students are getting many of their questions answered by professionals during these sessions.

“The Skype sessions are so helpful,” said Emily Stone, a junior. “It’s a really eye-opening experience to hear from actual professionals who are out there living in the world we are striving to get to.”

Sophomore LaDarius Lee said the sessions have inspired him to stay in pursuit of his goals.

“In an industry that has lots of trials, it was inspiring to hear such an uplifting outlook on the industry,” Lee said. “It’s a big reminder on how to keep persevering through the let-downs.”

This is the first semester of these Skype sessions, but Lieber said the excitement is growing. The next session will feature Tony Award-winning producer Ken Davenport in December. Davenport has produced more than a dozen Broadway shows, including “The Visit,” “Kinky Boots” and “Macbeth,” as well as several off-Broadway shows.