Miles Wilkin (BSBA ‘70) has been bringing his Broadway expertise into the classroom for over two years. But this year, he combines his industry knowledge with professional connections in a new course at the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance.
The new course, “Broadway and Beyond Masterclass,” begins by establishing a foundation of the industry and then takes a deep dive into the multifaceted layers of the theatre industry. Subject matters include Broadway, Off-Broadway, tours, regional theatre and performing arts centers.
Part of what makes the class so unique is the talent Wilkin brings into the room.
“We decided we wanted to do a master class with professionals who could come in and bring the real world into the class,” Wilkin said.
A Disney studio head and a producer of Waitress and Chicago are just some of the guests who make up this semester’s syllabus.
In the first month of the semester, Wilkin hosted a trip for the class to see the tour of Hamilton at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida. The class took a tour of the theatre led by Kathy Ramsberger, president of Dr. Phillips Centre, as well as the stage and got to experience firsthand how touring productions work.
“The ambition of this is to expose students to actual people who are working in the theatre community and talk about their expertise and what they’re involved in,” Wilkin said. “It makes the explanation of the community and the process and the structure really come to life.”
Wilkin started in the business about 40 years ago when he was asked to work at a theatre in New Orleans. There he became immersed in and fascinated by theatre and how it worked.
After that, Wilkin was approached to create an organization that would bring theatre to audiences outside of New York City.
“Back in the early 80s, there were not a lot of theatres, so we were able to create the infrastructure for that to exist in North America,” Wilkin said.
Over 300 productions later, his organization, Broadway Across America, is going strong. The organization is responsible for bringing tours of Hamilton,Dear Evan Hansen and more to theaters across the country.
“We were extremely pleased when Miles approached us with this initiative,” said Dr. Ralf Remshardt, interim director of the UF School of Theatre and Dance. “And the success of the class has borne out his vision of a fruitful liaison between the profession and higher education. Students and faculty hope that the collaboration between Miles and the school continues."