Five Wilkes University theatre majors were selected among thousands of applicants to audition at the highly selective Southeastern Theatre Conference convention in Lexington, Kentucky the first week in March. Jack Flynn of Doylestown, Kasey Karoll from Stewartstown, Madeline Meier of Mobile, Alabama, Jahel Duran-Diaz of Galloway, New Jersey and Jay’na Johnson from Baltimore, Maryland went through multiple screening auditions in order to qualify for the spring SETC convention. “This is an amazing number of students to have qualified from one institution, especially given our size university,” said Jon Liebetrau, associate professor of theatre and chair of the Performing Arts department at Wilkes.
The students reflected on the opportunity and shared why attending SETC is important to them:
Jahel Duran-Diaz ’24, musical theatre major: “I feel very honored to be selected to audition. I have worked very hard to progress in my craft of acting, singing and dancing and it has paid off significantly. I hope i come from these auditions with connections in the professional world, and most importantly a job performing!”
Jack Flynn ’24, musical theatre major with a dance minor: “I feel honored and very excited. This will give me the opportunity to be seen by many professional companies as well as allow me to make connections that will help me stay booked and busy post-college.”
Jay’na Johnson ’24, musical theatre major, dance minor: “I am more than honored to have been chosen to audition. This is a really big opportunity to be able to audition in a post-COVID theatre industry. I’m hoping to begin networking with professionals, look at graduate programs in hopes of getting my MFA in acting, and grow to be a more confident performer and auditioner outside of Wilkes.”
Kasey Karoll ’25, musical theatre major, dance minor: “I am beyond excited to be auditioning for professional theatre companies, as this is my first professional audition experience. I am also excited for the workshops at the convention. I expect this convention to be a huge learning opportunity while also giving me a starting point in my professional career.”
Maddie Meier ’26, musical theatre major: “I feel so insanely lucky. I’m really hoping to get some summer work to build my resume and represent my school.”
Since 1949, SETC has been the largest national theatre convention in the country. Over 4,000 actors, dancers and singers audition for thousands of jobs with 80-100 companies from across the nation. This year’s convention offered workshops and networking opportunities for performing arts students seeking professional work.