MSU production in N.Y. held at ‘elite venue for musical performances’ Musical theatre faculty and 24 students traveled to New York City for Spring Break.
The University program celebrated its first 15 years with a sold-out evening of cabaret held March 6 at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. The evening featured performances by alumni and current students.
The pub, which is run by The Public Theater (a New York arts organization), served as the perfect host for the standing-room-only gathering of MSU alums, friends and theatre industry professionals.
The audience, which included hundreds around the world who watched the showcase via the Internet, was treated to three decades of MSU talent, from Dale Hensley (1976) to graduating seniors Natalie Baughman and Thomas Hogan. Nathan Tysen, the first graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre program, directed the production. Heather Luellen, MSU’s musical theatre pianist, served as musician and musical director for the evening.
“This was an outstanding opportunity for us to ‘sell the brand,’ ” Michael Casey, musical theatre coordinator and producer of the event, says. “Joe’s Pub is recognized as an elite venue for musical performances, especially related to the Broadway community. To see it packed on a Sunday evening during a rainstorm exceeded all expectations.”
Student Natalie Baughman was excited to display her talents on a New York stage: “It was an amazing opportunity and allowed me to network with many of our alumni that are currently working on Broadway or in regional theater. It was the next step for me on a professional level and helped me progress forward in so many ways.”
The showcase was the beginning of four days of events held for the musical theatre program. The trip included master classes with Broadway composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia and vocal teacher Andrew Byrne. In addition, the seventh-annual alumni reception brought together generations of MSU alumni living in New York City.
Two weeks after the New York trip, the acting program made its way to Hollywood for the Los Angeles Industry Showcase.
Students dined with alumni at The Cat & Fiddle (a landmark Hollywood restaurant), toured Paramount Studio, attended workshops with casting and talent agencies, performed at the Hudson Theatre and studied with Sean McEwen, a noted alumnus and feature film writer/ director/producer. The group even found time to search for stars during lunch in the Paramount Lot Café.
“The event was very successful, and another important and vital step in the right direction for our acting program, the students within, and the department/college as a whole,” Dr. Kurt Heinlein, coordinator of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program, says. “As one agent put it: ‘In five years you won’t even have room to invite alumni.’ Though we always want, and intend, to include alumni in this important event (as they are a very important bridge in building student success), the agent’s sentiment was appreciated — that each year we’re building a stronger foundation of industry recognition in Los Angeles.”
“The L.A. showcase exceeded all my expectations,” student actor Hannah Duncan says. “I was able to connect with, and get advice from, real industry professionals who taught me to be my own business. My career is my responsibility and no one will work harder for me than me. It taught me that, in order to do well in this industry, I must not only stay active in my training, I need to establish superb networking skills and above all, be myself.”