A Carolina college is on Hollywood Reporter’s list of top theater schools

Heidi Finley

The senior class of the UNCSA School of Drama presented Stephen Sondheim's "Company" in November 2017. Photo by Peter Mueller, UNCSA

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts has one of the country’s five best undergraduate theater programs, The Hollywood Reporter says.

In its May 16 issue, the weekly magazine describes UNCSA’s School of Drama as offering “a top tier education that produced Mary-Louise Parker, Lucas Hedges and Broadway director Joe Mantello.”

The magazine reported that it determined its top schools – which are not ranked – after it “canvassed alumni, instructors and top theater and Hollywood pros.”

“This is welcome news as we propel another class of talented and hard-working actors and directors into the arts and entertainment industry,” Chancellor Lindsay Bierman said in a news release about the ranking.

“Like their predecessors, they will shine on television and in films, on Broadway and in regional theater productions throughout the country. And they will continue to blaze a trail on current streaming platforms and will innovate new ways to tell powerful stories.

 Scott Zigler, who was named Dean of the School of Drama in June 2017, said in the news release that the strength of UNCSA’s program is well-known.

“Typically, UNCSA-trained actors land major roles within weeks of graduation, if not before,” said Zigler, who was previously director and head of actor training at the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

“Most students today hope that they will have a career that includes a mix of many platforms, and it’s our job to prepare them for that,” he added in the release.

Among Zigler’s plans are revising the school’s on-camera training in collaboration with famed on-camera teacher Bob Krakower and working with industry players and UNCSA alumni to train students in cultural entrepreneurship.

“Not only should they be aware of the hunger for content from relatively new players like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but they also need to learn about the possibility of monetizing content on platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitter.

“If we can teach artists not only to create but how to monetize their creativity, we will empower them to make their own opportunities within the profession,” he said.

Hannah Myers, Everett Graham and Colleen Munro appeared in George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man” in October 2017. Photos by Peter Mueller, UNCSA

Heidi Finley is the editor of Carolina College Bound. Send questions or suggestions to hfinley@charlotteobserver.com.