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Pandemic means CCM class of 2021 grads perform 'biggest audition' of their lives virtually

Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 19:41:12-04

CINCINNATI — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a dramatic toll not just on performing arts professionals but aspiring show-business pros, as well.

Seniors at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music can tell you all about it.

"It's been a wild ride," said graduating senior Camila Paquet, one of numerous seniors to perform in a virtual showcase this spring meant for industry professionals. "Our faculty has done a really great job of creating a safe learning environment for us, really communicating with us on what we need going forward."

The video was a substitute for what was a customary trip for Chasm's musical theater seniors to travel to New York and perform before a live audience of industry big-wigs.

One professor called it the "biggest audition of (their lives)."

"It's sort of like their launch into the industry," said assistant professor of musical theater Katie Johannigman. "Really, really important and a big opportunity for our students... So your whole four years is really building up to this show."

Because interstate travel is still considered risky during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year's senior class decided to orchestrate a virtual showcase as a substitute for an in-person audience.

Acting students also posted this teaser to YouTube:

"It was just a bunch of people coming together to create art, which, in a year like this, not a lot of people get to do that," Paquet said. "So we consider ourselves pretty lucky."

People outside the musical theater program helped film, record and produce the hour-long video and create an online portal for industry professionals to look at each student's work.

"We've had people from both the east coast and the west coast on," Johannigman said. "We've had Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures and Amazon Studios and Netflix and Disney+ -- all these studios reaching out to see our students."

For Paquet, the virtual showcase has offered a sliver of hope as she enters a competitive field during uncertain times.

"Slowly, people are starting to log on and watch and go to our website. I'm just excited for anything right now, and I'm really excited to see where my class goes," she said.