As the Founder of MTCA, I love this question. I love it because I get to tell the MTCA origin story: in the beginning, it was just me suggesting songs to high school students I taught and my small tribe of friends who knew monologues or dance stepping in to help with the other aspects of audition prep. I called them my “Genius Bar” (which I assure you was VERY cool to say in 2002). At its heart, MTCA was and continues to be an organized group of student-centered, passionate, compassionate, expert teaching artists. I never set out to start a “business,” and I think that reflects in the truly individualized, personal attention each student and family receives from MTCA. As we grew, more organizational infrastructure was put in place, but the original spirit of dynamic coaches who love their craft and love sharing it with high school students has remained strongly in place.
Our original team came primarily from people I knew via my life as a theatre educator in Pittsburgh. From 1999-2002, I held a yearly workshop where the Carnegie Mellon MT senior class met with the drama students at Canfield High School in Ohio, where I was a teacher. I loved the power of introducing soon-to-be-college grads, full of wise advice, to the next generation of prospective theatre artists; the students loved it even more! I first met Director Leo Ash Evens and coaches Rhyn McLemore, Will Reynolds, and Jon-Michael Reese when they were students at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, I taught Director Charlie Murphy and coaches Candi Boyd and Lysie Jordan when they did theatre training in middle school and high school, meeting them at ages 12, 12, and 11, respectively. It’s no wonder we have so many Steeler fans on the Coaching Team!
My long history with many of our teaching artists is just the tip of the “MTCA fam” iceberg. Our coaches are connected to one another in a myriad of ways, and if we ever found someone who was really great with 3-D graphic design, we’d finally make the MTCA family tree we’ve been talking about for so long! We now have MTCA spouses, MTCA babies (none named MTCA…yet), and someday fairly soon we’ll have 2nd generation MTCAers! As the Grandma Emeritus of this incredible group of people, I feel so lucky to have unintentionally created such an amazing business that truly puts its students and families first.
(P.S. In answer to the original question, I personally have been coaching for the college process in some form since 1993. Hashbrown OLD.)
About the Author
Ellen Lettrich is the Founder of MTCA and the Founder and current Executive Director of The Fund for College Auditions, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports low-income students from underrepresented groups throughout their college audition process. Ellen has been a theatre educator focusing on the college audition process since 1999. She is also a licensed speech pathologist who specializes in voice and in this role has been Assistant Vocal Coach for Matilda on Broadway and Vocal Coach for Hand to God both on Broadway and off. She loves her continued work with MTCA as a voice analyst and resident Coaching Team Grandma.