Award-winning performer Michael Feinstein takes his seat behind the Steinway Piano and accompanies Kyle Laing, a student in UCF’s musical theatre program, on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Love Look Away,” while an audience of Laing’s peers and professors listens intently.

The performance, part of a larger master class session led by Feinstein and part of the IGNITE fundraising campaign launch on September 16, showcased just one of the many talented performers who hone their skills on our campus every day. Their gifts are varied — actors, dancers, musicians and singers — but they have one thing in common. Their talents outshine the facilities in which they rehearse and perform.

Laing finishes singing in the unassuming 150-seat Rehearsal Hall tucked away behind the bookstore on campus, and Feinstein offers a vocal suggestion: “Start small,” he says, “so you have a place to go.”

It’s a piece of advice UCF’s acclaimed school of Performing Arts seems to have followed, too. It started small and has grown in stature and reputation despite its limited student performance facilities.

Currently, disparate spaces spread across campus and around the Central Florida community serve UCF’s performing arts students. A proposed multi-use, state-of-the-art UCF Performing Arts Center, though, will enable theatre, music and dance students to develop and present their skills in venues similar to those they will encounter in their careers, and give them a competitive edge in the job market.

“The training that I’ve received here [at UCF] has definitely prepared me for where I am right now,” Laing says. “The professors are constantly there to help you and push you to be the best you can be.”

An on-campus Performing Arts Center will serve as a model of excellence and innovation for 21st-century performing arts education. Merging the components of traditional training with new innovations in technology, teaching, research and performance will provide UCF students with the best performing arts education in Florida.

Learn more about the proposed Performing Arts Center at the School of Performing Arts website.