Abigail Dunagan, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor
The Musical Theater Showcase was an opportunity for musical theater students to perform and show off their talents. The Department of Visual and Performing Arts hosted the event at the Bell Recital Hall on March 30. This event was an opportunity for musical theater students to perform and show off their talents. Students of vocal instructors Scott Willis and Indra Thomas were chosen to perform. The showcase featured the performances of 10 students, and adjunct instructor of music Kathryn Nobles on the piano.
Freshmen Catherine Mendes performed in the showcase. She sang “On the Steps of the Palace” by Stephen Sondheim from “Into the Woods,” and “On My Own” by Claude-Michel Schonberg from “Les Misérables.” She has been participating in chorus since elementary school, and she started in musical theater when she was 14. Mendes is a student of Indra Thomas.
“My song from ‘Into the Woods’ is Sondheim, so it is really tricky to hear when you are going to come in,” Mendes said. “Sondheim is a genius, and his music is absolutely beautiful, but it’s just very difficult to perform.”
According to Mendes, working on performing “On the Steps of the Palace” has been one of the most challenging parts of preparing for the showcase. The piece has a very difficult composition, but Mendes said that she felt well prepared for the performance.
“Working on that has been really hard,” Mendes said. “It has been hard not to get in my head and be in the moment, but also not come on the wrong measure. It’s been a little stressful, but I still feel prepared.”
Artist-in-residence and opera singer Indra Thomas has been a vocal instructor at Berry for two years. Her students have been preparing to perform in the showcase for around a month. She said that the showcase is a way for the theater department to show off some of the talent that typically doesn’t get a lot of recognition. According to Thomas, preparation for the showcase involves selecting the songs, working on staging and picking the outfits that will be worn.
“We pick songs that are interesting for the audience to listen to, but also songs that the students will be able to sing well,” Thomas said. “We work on diction, the staging, how we walk on and off, and what we wear. It is a process to get comfortable on the stage.”
Thomas said that her favorite part of the showcase is getting to see all of the students hard work come together into the final product. During the final rehearsal, the entire program is run through, and the students work on staging and gestures. According to Thomas, the most challenging part of the showcase for students is the overwhelming nerves that come with performing.
“We are all nervous before we go on stage, even I am to this day,” Thomas said. “We have to find that balance and encourage them and inspire them and let them know that they will be great.”
Thomas said that the students put a lot of hard work into their performances, and she is looking forward to seeing how everything comes together.
“I just want to see the finished product,” Thomas said. “I’m hoping to see them do their best and just have fun.”
Freshman Amerial Page is a theater student. She did not perform in this year’s showcase, but she enjoyed seeing her classmates perform. She said that she was surprised by how expressive all of the performers were, as well as certain notes that were sung.
“I thought it was amazing,” Page said. “In a normal show, there is dialogue leading up to the performance. It was really amazing to see how they were able to perform everything on the spot.”
Mendes said that her favorite part of performing in the showcase was the opportunity to show her family and friends the product of her hard work. While there were many hours of practice and many challenges that came with learning to sing the songs, Mendes said that she always has a lot of fun performing for an audience.
“I really love the feeling of going on stage, and the energy that you get from a live audience,” Mendes said. “I love that feeling of gratitude that people want to experience what you have been working on. It’s just fun to get up in front of people and act.”