Big Dreams in Nashville


Theatre Newsletter | October 2021

It is always such a joy to check in on St. Ambrose University theatre students who go on to continue their theatre education or career. One student, Morgan Reilly, has recently been accepted into the Blackbird Academy in Nashville, Tennessee and officially began classes on September 27.

Reilly, from Quincy, Illinois, tried her hand at several different aspects of theatre during her time at St. Ambrose. According to Reilly, she enjoyed all of the jobs she had in St. Ambrose University productions, but she has a special place in her heart for one particular job. "I have been a stage hand, board operator, and I began to explore the design world, but I very quickly fell in love with stage management," Reilly said.

Founded by John and Martina McBride, The Blackbird Academy is a multi-studio production facility that's home to a community of engineers, producers, musicians, and technical staff who have enhanced the art of live and studio audio. The academy instructors have worked in the industry for an extensive period of time, so with this education, its students are learning directly from the professionals.

Reilly applied for the Blackbird Scholarship Program after being sent an advertisement by a friend and alumnus of the Blackbird Academy.

"I remember I was doing homework for costume design and my friend called me and said ‘Stop what you're doing, look at this post, and go apply'", Reilly explained. "I immediately checked out the details, and I did not hesitate to begin working on the application process."

The entirety of the program at Blackbird is six months long, and Reilly's commitment will be time consuming. She has 30 hours worth of class each week in addition to band rehearsals twice a week, but to her it's all worth it because Reilly intends to stay in Nashville after her program ends. She plans to find work, build her professional reputation, and pursue her dream of working on the road in the music industry.

morgan reilly

Morgan Reilly

Class of 2021

Enrolled in post-secondary education at The Blackbird Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reilly explains that her professors at St. Ambrose University prepared her for this opportunity by not only teaching her valuable skills in classes and in the shop, but by teaching her to be prepared for anything and to be personable. Reilly's advice to students wanting to pursue a career in the arts is to never limit yourself.

"Take note of your ambition, in addition to your work ethic and attitude, and that will take you so much farther than you think," she said. These skills will especially help her in her everyday life, but particularly in the entertainment business because having a poor attitude and being ill-prepared can be the kiss of death in the industry.

"If you have a dream, pursue it, and be unapologetic about chasing your dreams," insisted Reilly. "This is the only life you get to live, so go out there and go live the life you want."

The St. Ambrose Theatre Department is so proud of Reilly and all she is doing at the Blackbird Academy. Congratulations on your accomplishment; we can't wait to see what you do!

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