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Some thoughts about UCI as a viable option

MamaBearMamaBear Registered User Posts: 153 Junior Member
I know there are a lot of students looking at their options for next year as the offers & rejections are beginning to arrive. Boy do I remember the roller coaster from last year! The crazy excitement after a call from a drama admissions dept. to the devastation brought by a very thin envelope from a cherished school to the renewed excitement of a "fat" envelope!

I can't give a lot of personal details but we live in California and our DD had her heart set on going to an East Coast school. When it came time to weigh the options she had 3 solid East Coast BFA choices. We visited each school and she didn't have a front runner. As a precaution she thought she had better visit UCIrvine since it was on her list as a back up but she hadn't researched it. She spent 2 days on campus touring, chatting with students, and sitting in on classes. She spent the night in a dorm with a friend of a friend.

I think you can see where this is going...after much angst and flip-flopping she decided to go to UCI. Everyone thought she was nuts to pass up programs that culled their talent from extensive national auditions to attend a school where she would have to audition her freshman year with no guarantees. But "fit" is discussed a lot here on CC and with good reason. She saw that her wish list of what she wanted was met at UCI more than at the other 3. She has a secondary academic interest that she was intent on pursuing and it would have been difficult or impossible at the East Coast choices.

With one quarter under her belt she is ecstatic to be getting challenging MT training (she was accepted into MT2), rigorous acting classes, top notch dance classes, and performance opportunities IN ADDITION TO a double major in a separate academic pursuit. She is so thrilled to mesh her passions that she made Dean's List and said it was a labor of love. Sometimes I think the theatre kids get caught up in the allure of the conservatories and their cachet that a BA (or possible BFA like at UCI) seem like a step down. I just wanted to give another perspective.

The alumni from UCI (BA, BFA and MFA) are an impressive crowd.

Teal Wicks is touring with Wicked and she earned a BA in drama with honors in musical theatre. There is an interview where she talks about her education on YouTube.

Allison Case is a UCI BA grad and we saw her on Broadway in Hair last year - amazing! Here is an article about her:
UC Irvine Feature: Allison Case.

There are lots more listed at UC Irvine Drama Department :: Alumni.

This is just some food for thought for those who have UCI on their radar.
Post edited by MamaBear on

Replies to: Some thoughts about UCI as a viable option

  • La DivaLa Diva Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Thank you for some insight into UCI's program. My D just finished 9 auditions (most of them at LA Unifieds) with her last audition this weekend at UCLA. The stress of so many applications, essays, scholarships, travel and AP classes on top of it all is a bit daunting. The waiting is the worst part of it all but she is a trouper and keeping great spirits. UCI is the only non-audition school for her and her only "safety" If she is accepted we will most definitely travel to southern calif for a visit. Her biggest concern with UCI is the fact that she has to audition to get into the Musical Theatre program. Can you tell me about the process of this audition? Does it create competition between friends? etc.
    Thank you!
  • MamaBearMamaBear Registered User Posts: 153 Junior Member
    Good luck to your daughter! A whole year later my body still gives a little shiver of anticipation when I hear the mail truck! The waiting is so incredibly excruciating!

    I will answer your questions as best I can but with the caveat that I'm just the mom and my "facts" are secondhand. Some of your questions have been answered in previous threads but I will summarize so that the info is in this one as well. (UCI peeps feel free to correct any mistakes.)

    All drama freshmen at UCI can register for MT1 (which is the entry level Musical Theatre class) without an audition. They can take dance classes and they will have acting classes as a drama major. Thus they can continue to work on their skills right off the bat. However, they may only advance in musical theatre by audition even though they can repeat MT1 to work on audition material.

    The first week of school before classes even start there is a mega-audition. Students can audition for a whole host of things including musicals, straight plays, and MT2 (or MT3) class. Here is the announcement for 2009-2010 to give you an idea: http://production.arts.uci.edu/callboard/auditioninfo/Forms/Audition%20Announcement%202009-2010.pdf.

    Then, 2nd quarter, there is another audition for MT2 and MT3 to fill any empty slots. There is also an audition at this time for the undergrad musical. And, then, 3rd quarter there is yet another opportunity to audition for MT2 etc. etc.

    Here is where my info is definitely secondhand and colored by the spotty reports from DD. Yes, it's a very selective process to get into MT2. I wish I knew the statistics but I don't. Suffice to say that everyone in that class and on the track toward a BFA is already very gifted and ready to work at a challenging level. In her class I have heard anecdotes about the girl who traveled as Annie, the student who is a name on a Disney TV show, and the boy who worked off-Broadway. Many of the students in that class are already AEA or SAG and have agents. There is no hint of these students being "conservatory rejects".

    With that in mind, yes, it is very difficult to get selected for the class but there are opportunities to audition each quarter because many MT2 kids move up to MT3 and there are constant openings. The winnowing process has an upside in that it is an opportunity to find out how a performer stacks up against others of his/her type and to find out if they will be competitive in a larger pool. At the same time that they are learning where they stand in musical theatre, they are taking lots of classes that will introduce them to other possible paths. Though my DD is having success with the musical theatre route she is equally enjoying the academic stimulation. She even decided that she didn't completely despise teching!
  • La DivaLa Diva Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Thanks so much for your input and advice. It makes me happy that California has another strong musical theatre program. (UCI and UCLA...) It is surprising that more west coast universities don't offer an MFA in Musical Theatre since there are so many opportunities for the stage here. Plus Las Vegas is becoming the west coast Broadway. Anyway, we'll keep our fingers crossed and try to keep calm until the end of March!! Take care :)
  • Big ShoesBig Shoes Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I was always under the impression that UCI was a drama school only when it came to theatre. Not much escapes me when it comes to doing my research, but obviously pride come beforeth the fall. Cal State Fullerton has a fine program as well as Fullerton College (JC), but having the option of UCI changes things. We have gone to see several production locally, but don't recall ever seeing advertisement for UCI shows. My S is in the Triple Threat program at his high school which preps them production wise and academically for the UC system requirements.

    Thanks so much Mama for bringing this to light. Live and Learn!!!
  • La DivaLa Diva Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    My D just received her status change online that she was ACCEPTED! This is the first one and such a huge relief for us. We'll see how everything turns out but we definitely need to schedule a visit. Yay!
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,535 Senior Member
    Many congrats to your daughter!
  • Big ShoesBig Shoes Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    My son has a performance over at Orange Coast Community College tomorrow night. We are going to go early and take a walk around the campus at UCI and Vanguard. I haven't seen the UCI campus since before they put in the new baseball field. Circa 19... something.
  • MamaBearMamaBear Registered User Posts: 153 Junior Member
    Congrats to your D La Diva!

    Big Shoes, enjoy your campus visit...I hope it doesn't rain! You probably already know this but for other readers the Claire Trevor School of the Arts is close to the baseball field. It has a huge chunk of the campus all to itself with bridges http://www.physics.uci.edu/~silverma/build/artsbridge.jpg leading to main campus and across Mesa Road.

  • CalMTMomCalMTMom Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    Hooray. Daughter just received acceptance to UCI today! She has some other options out there and still waiting to here from some big boys but this is a very strong possibility and we are thrilled here.
    (Dad really wants her to go here so she is closer to home... I guess we will see)
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,535 Senior Member
    Congratulations to your daughter!
  • showmom858showmom858 Registered User Posts: 2,757 Senior Member
    CalMTMom - I am so happy to hear that your D had some good news!
  • CalMTMomCalMTMom Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    Thanks Showmom
    It was especially good because she was sick today--that made being ill a little more bearable. Now we just wait for the other 4 schools but we have two good options right now so we are feeling OK.
  • CalMTMomCalMTMom Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    Wow. I have been on other sections of CC today and found so many upset students with really good academic stats who have been denied admission to UC Irvine, San Diego, etc. Many more are on a waitlist. This is an extremely difficult year for California colleges as applications are up over 10% at most schools and admissions are down due to budget cuts. I feel so bad for these kids who have worked so hard to do well in school and take challenging coursework and are having a hard time getting into a school of their choice.

    We are feeling really blessed about D acceptance even more as a few of her very good friends did not get into UC Irvine or the drama department. Don't know yet if that is where she will end up, but will feel very privileged for her to attend UC Irvine if that is her final choice.

    What a tough year to be applying for school on the west coast especially. Congrats to all who have been admitted to your colleges--be thankful. :)
  • ncbearsncbears Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    D was just accepted as a drama major. We are out of state, and that acceptance rate has been going down the last couple of years.
    We visited last summer and spoke to the head of the MT program. He was very nice and forthcoming. He said that next year Irvine may become an audition school which would likely change some of the auditioning for classes. He indicated that few make MT2 on their first audition, but most make it by their third audition - since those are the dedicated people. Not all make it, however. Irvine is definitely an option!
  • theatremommatheatremomma Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    We have several friends there and they like it a lot. One is a senior in the Acting BFA (this is an audition program and he got in his senior year). We also know a sophomore in MT 2. As with all UC schools, there are budget issues that limit the shows. But even the student productions are very good. They seem to be very happy there and it is a wonderful school in a beautiful location.
This discussion has been closed.