Playbill, the magazine ubiquitous to Broadway theater and beyond, has named Fordham one of “Broadway’s Big 10: Top Colleges Currently Represented on Currently Running Shows.”
“What does it take to land a Broadway show? Hard work, talent, luck—all backed up by a good education,” wrote Playbill’s Sarah Jane Arnegger.
“It’s wonderful publicity for these departments,” said Robert Grimes, SJ, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. “Sometimes we are not well known enough in the city as we should be.”
The article, part of the Playbill.com’s Back to School Week (#BwayBacktoSchool), primarily tracked featured performers on Broadway, although there are plenty of Fordham alumni that work backstage in design and production.
“They’re the spine that makes it all happen,” said theatre program director Matthew Maguire. “Set, lighting, and costume designers create the environment where the art is being made. And the stage manager is like a conductor with an orchestra.”
Maguire likened the University’s placement alongside heavy hitters to a David and Goliath tale, placing Fordham toe-to-toe with peer institutions that have well-established reputations and much larger BFA programs. He said the reason Fordham students are doing so well is because of their rigorous liberal arts background.
“I believe our grads are working at a higher rate because they study literature, philosophy, and science,” he said. “That grounds them and fuels their imagination. It also teaches them how to ask great questions. And that’s how they get in even though we might not have quite the same resources.”
He said that the program’s experiential approach includes 20 studio productions a year. Students are also encouraged to try other tracks. Playwrights act, actors make costumes, and lighting designers work the soundboard.
“We encourage cross-pollination,” he said.
Maguire added that he relishes the listing, but like a doting parent he couldn’t help but brag of others not named. He mentioned Patricia Clarkson, FCLC ’82, in Elephant Man, as well as Tony-winner Julie White, PCS ’09. He noted that David Ruttura, FCLC ’03, is now resident director of Phantom of the Opera and that Heather Lind, FCLC ’05, made her debut opposite Al Pacino in Merchant of Venice.
“We’ve got a deep bench,” he said “We make the list even without listing all the people we have on Broadway.”