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Theatre Student Selected for Prestigious Open Jar Institute in New York City

March 5, 2019


Hewleek McKoy performs during "Pippin," the 2018 ESU Homecoming Musical.

Senior theatre major Hewleek McKoy of Olathe has been selected to attend the Open Jar Institute in New York City. He is the third ESU Theatre student since 2012 to earn the honor. Previous ESU honorees were Marah Melvin of Iola in 2012 and Nathan Dale Short of Paola three years ago.

The Open Jar Institute is a highly competitive and prestigious training program for theatre students and graduates. While with the institute, participants study with Broadway's biggest stars, performers, directors, choreographers, agents and casting directors. 

Open Jar selects only 60 students annually from auditions held in New York and through the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. McKoy auditioned for the institute while Emporia State Theatre participated in KCACTF, Region Five in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in January 2019. 

“His selection says that Hewleek — and the other students selected in Sioux Falls for Open Jar — are among the best student performers in our region,” said theatre director Jim Bartruff. “And only a few are selected for the institute each year. We are very proud of him, his accomplishments and his prospects for the future. Hewleek has worked very hard for this opportunity and we know he will be a great representative of ESU, its programs and the other theatre students at ESU and throughout the region.”

“I feel incredibly humbled by this opportunity,” McKoy said. “It has been a haze of disbelief, and I’m just waiting for someone to tell me it was a joke. The support from the people around me has been unparalleled.”

McKoy will spend one week in New York City learning from Broadway's most respected professionals in one-on-one masterclasses and workshops. The students will also get a chance to see four of the hottest new shows on Broadway and have exclusive opportunities to work with the best in the business in preparation for their own Broadway journey.

“This means the world to me because it means this degree and this career is all worth it,” McKoy said. “I can actually make a career in this business and it is unbelievable. Simply put, it means I might just be good enough.”

McKoy has to pay his own way to New York and into the institute and must raise over $3000 to participate in the institute. Those costs include, housing, classes, tickets to the shows and some meals. ESU Theatre is working with Hewleek to raise the funds he needs. McKoy is also raising funds through his GoFundMe which can be found at the link below:



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