A College Q & A with Broadway Performer and Millikin Grad, Karen Hyland!

Well, friends, we’ll be eating turkey and getting fat before we know it. And I’d just like to take a moment to say that I’m thankful for you—for each and every one of you out there in cyberspace who have read my blog.

One of the many things I’m thankful for is my amazing friend Karen Hyland. Karen is one of the nicest, wittiest, awesomest people I know. (Yes, I know “awesomest” isn’t a word, but it seems fitting in this case.) She was in the original cast of two Broadway musicals—Ghost and Scandalous—and she’s currently on tour with Elf the Musical. So if you’re in the Chicago, Detroit, DC, St. Louis, or Miami, grab your tickets now!


My very favorite story about Karen is this: We were at an audition for a regional production of Crazy for You. Karen danced beautifully in her small group of five and as she left the dance floor, the casting director said, “Karen, can you toe tap?” (Toe tapping is exactly what it sounds like—tap dancing, but on your tippy toes.)

“Yes, I can toe tap!” said Karen confidently to the casting director.

Then she turned to me and her smile froze on her face as she whispered, “I’ve never toe tapped in my life. Oh well, what are the chances that I’ll get the part anyway?”

She got the part.

And she taught herself to toe tap.

The moral of the story is this: FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT, PEOPLE!

1. Where did you attend college and why did you select that school?

I attended Millikin University in central Illinois.  I chose that school because a few girls from where I studied dance went there, and I really admired them.  I visited the school and it seemed to have everything I needed in terms of getting a well-rounded musical theater education.

2. What did you sing for your vocal audition?

I sang "Safety in Numbers" from The Boyfriend.  We had just done that show in the fall, and I had sung that song playing the role of Maisie.

3. What was the college selection process like for you?

The college selection process was very difficult.  In this field, where you go to school seems to weigh heavily on how you are initially perceived in New York.  My first choice was University of Michigan, but I was put on the waitlist.  There were a few other schools that I was accepted to, but I wasn't able to visit them and it made me very uncomfortable to attend a school I had never even seen.

4. If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?

I would have paid a coach to coach me through my audition material.  That actually never even crossed my mind.  But I believe that you enter the city with more of an advantage having attended schools such as Michigan, Cincinnati, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, Julliard, etc. And you won't make it into those schools based on natural ability alone.  You have to have a solid audition, and prove that you will be trainable.

5. How has your choice of school helped/hurt you in your career?

It’s hard to say because I don't know how many auditions I went to that I was dismissed because of my choice of school.  I can imagine that going to one of the schools I mentioned earlier would have guaranteed that I would have been a part of a college showcase that more agents wanted to attend, and maybe I would have gotten representation/management sooner.  I do have to say that I continue to meet people all the time who went to Millikin, or worked with someone who went to Millikin, and I truly believe that we have a really good reputation.

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