Theatre and Dance Department

Audition tips

    Loving those goosebumps

    Musical theatre still gives me goosebumps after all these years. Whether I’m sitting in the audience experiencing an incredible production, or a collaborator shares a new idea, my body often has a visceral response to this art form. And that keeps me coming back for more. 

    What I teach

    Fall: I’m leading the Senior Showcase Class, New Student Spotlight, and directing Pippin.  

    Spring: I‘m teaching two sections of Musical Theatre Performance III. I think it’s one of the most important classes in a BFA program because it challenges students to combine all of the skills they’ve been developing in acting, theory, and voice lessons to craft a sequence that builds from scene work into song, and maybe even into dance. As a director, this is the class that lights me up! 

    Why Nazareth?

    Our faculty is made up of working professionals who are living what we’re teaching. That was important to me when I chose Naz, and as a newcomer, it is remarkable for me to see how invested our faculty are in the individual journeys of the students they recruit, and for good reason. There are a lot of hard-working, talented students who lead with kindness here. 

    Best advice

    The only thing constant in our business is change. To combat that, develop routines that support your mind, body, and heart, that are consistent — a part of your every day, no matter where you are. It takes some experimenting, but figure out your optimal wake-up time. Ask yourself:

    • How do you work best: What time of day? Where? 
    • What types of books or podcasts will feed your mind with constructive thoughts? 
    • Do you like to meditate? Run? 
    • What types of foods fuel your body and make you feel the most energized? 
    • How often should you practice? Do you know how to practice? 

    Make time for hobbies that have nothing to do with theatre. It’s helpful to create a life you love, whether you are working or not. 

    No wrong way

    I firmly believe there is not just one way to do anything, especially to assess artistic growth, so in all my classes I employ “Choose Your Own Adventure” style assignments that galvanize students to personalize the coursework and to design projects that communicate what they have learned in their own unique way. I trust them to think for themselves, and make bold choices. There’s no wrong way in my classes.

    Stay humble

    The first review I received after grad school was titled “Fantastick Flop (2002)” and it taunted, “Among O’Grady’s other blunders is her claustrophobic staging.” That’s my favorite line. It keeps me humble. It makes me chuckle. There’s SO MUCH criticism in there, but I let it fuel me. 

    Over a decade later, the New York Times (2015) offered something I always strive for in my work: “choreography that extends beyond mere footwork to reach straight into the heart.” 

    You just have to keep after it. Trust yourself. Learn to have a tough skin, and if you’re going to flop, then make it fantastic!

    Christine O'Grady

    An Eye for Equity

    From Rodolfo Soto, actor, In the Heights at Westport Country Playhouse (Connecticut) and Sacramento Music Circus:

    “What makes Christine so great to learn from is how she breaks norms to make the space more equitable. I met her when she was a guest director/choreographer [at my college] and she was one of three people who cast a black lead in my entire 5-year education. I wasn’t the best singer in that cast, I wasn’t the best dancer (by far), but I was a classically trained actor who could move his voice in the shape style of the show. And instead of going with the best voice, she went with the best performance, and that shook the program and let me know I might be worth something. That’s a pretty big statement at the undergrad level when you’re a kid from a lower socioeconomic status neighborhood in Brooklyn, competing with people who have had the resources for great training since they were 7. 

    “She is receptive to learning from her students and that makes me want to learn from her. I knew that her career in the industry plus her wanting to be inclusive would open doors for me that I never knew I had the ability to walk through. She’s been there, and if she sees it in me, I should see it in myself.” 

    A complicated choreography challenge

    Read about her choreography work on the world premiere of The Hello Girls, a complicated show where the actors play the entire score and move among different platforms.

    YouTube channel

    See some of her work on her YouTube Channel.

    Student perspective

    "Life lessons begin on day one of Christine's classes. She is a challenger, a professor who understands that theatre is always shifting and improving, and wants her students to be the best version they can possibly be. She allows you to fully understand that there is no one way to create a piece and that there is always room for improvement. She encourages you to always ask, 'how or why,' which has helped me to critically dissect not only what I am working on creativity, but also how I am making a larger impact in the greater world around me. She believes in your voice as an artist, and she holds you accountable to using it wisely and intentionally. Each time I direct, a part of Christine is within my work.... I will always look up to Christine as a mentor and support her as a collaborator. Her advice is invaluable, mutual, and life-long."

    — Sean Leehan, who studied with her at Marymount Manhattan College