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BW BFA acting student juggles senior year with national tour debut

Will Savarese '22 packs a lot into his resume - film, a Carnegie Hall appearance and now an impressive music theatre national tour gig. He's come a long way from the little boy who made his acting debut as Frosty the Snowman in his preschool play.

headshot photo and "Hairspray" production photos of BW student Will SavareseLikewise, BW's Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting program has come a long way since its 2016 inception. Then as now, it boasts of award-winning, professionally active faculty with extensive experience and a strong collaboration with the university's nationally acclaimed music theatre program.

A spotlight moment came in 2018-19 when it was named one of the nation's best BFA acting programs by OnStage Blog. Since then, its momentum and success stories have continued to soar. Just ask Savarese, who is juggling his final semester at BW with performing as Link Larkin in the national tour of "Hairspray."

From Warm-up Acts to Lead Role

If every actor has a story, then Savarese would say that his is sprinkled with high school performances in films shot by his friends and a leading role in an independent feature film called "Prom Date." His Carnegie Hall appearance, albeit not a Broadway star moment, sparkled, nonetheless. The jovial teen was also part of a big musical theatre cabaret, directed by TV actress Brooke Procida, that put him and other youth center stage for a one-show performance.

Those warm-up acts would eventually lead to something bigger once he came to BW. His professional theatre debut with "Hairspray" is a pinnacle moment for the BFA major from New Rochelle, New York, which is just outside the Bronx.

A Martial Arts Mentality

"I owe a lot of the success I find in acting to the lessons I learned early on in martial arts. I did it for 12 years before coming to BW. Growing up learning those lessons of mental discipline and making anything happen with hard work really helped me in pursuing acting as a career," he explained.

"The last place I expected to find similarities to my acting training was in my martial arts class. A lot of what we learn in martial arts training is about being in the moment, getting out of our heads and connecting our minds to our bodies, getting in touch with our breath, being able to react quickly to other people and being in touch with the people around us," he noted.

Will Savarese in "Hairspray" dressing room"Before 'Hairspray,' I was the farthest thing from a dancer," Savarese admitted. "The creative team told me that one reason why I was cast was because they believed I would work hard to make up for my lack of dance ability. Now, more than four months into the process, I can confidently say that I feel like a dancer. I don't know if I'd have that kind of mindset without the lessons I learned growing up in martial arts."

Applauding BW's BFA Program

As Savarese prepares to graduate and move back to New York City, he'll be taking more than his diploma with him. The professors, his peers and experiences he's had while being a YJ4L are now part of his story.

"The BFA program is really phenomenal. It offers a wide range of acting training that enables students to find what works for them individually. There are MANY opportunities to audition and be in shows," he noted.

"The cross-training is amazing. I love that at BW we receive dance and singing training, and we can carve our own path in that way. I personally was a music minor, but I know many people in my BFA class were dance minors. Never in a million years did I think my professional debut would be a dancing role in a musical theatre show. I think the training I received from our awesome dance and voice faculty played a huge part in making that happen," he emphasized.

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