Stage & Music Direction
University of South Dakota
Taking on stage and music direction of one of the iconic shows of the “Golden Era” of musicals provided the opportunity to explore several artistic fronts, such as legit, bel canto singing in the Broadway medium, social issues that were topical in the post WWII era like socio-political isolationism, as well as the development of characters that resonate with contemporary audiences despite being somewhat dated in their sensibilities and mannerisms. Early on, we established the musical aesthetic for our production. In a show with such lyric, soaring and emotional melodies, the need for tonal fullness and warmth was primary; the vibrato was always “spun,” as opposed to the straight, or straight-to-spin styles of modern and/or rock musicals. We balanced this warm tone with particular focus on vibrant, crisp consonant work in order to give the text equal importance with the music and to keep the audience engaged.
I was also extremely fortunate to welcome to campus guest artist Dr. Bryan Wade, a Broadway vocal coach and music director whom I have worked with many times in our Senior Showcase in New York, to work with the cast on musical interpretation and communication. His insight into the relationship between the singer and the accompaniment, as well as the means to evoke the style of the genre in the singing voice, were invaluable to the cast and to me. Since this show clearly defines characters by clan membership in the town of Brigadoon, I posted the cast list by clan affiliation, and then character work began with creating clan family trees, which each clan developed together over the first couple of rehearsals. This allowed for bonding within the family groups, greater understanding of clan friends and foes, and gave everyone a more complete context for the world in which we would be living in.
As we began to put the show on its feet, I employed Lessac Body & Vocal NRGs extensively in the early exploration process. I had the benefit of welcoming another guest artist to work with our cast, Professor Robin Carr from the University Southern ,Mississippi, who is a fellow Lessac Certified Trainer. Together, we explored body and vocal NRG combinations with the cast in solo, duet, and large ensemble numbers, working with each actor to use the Lessac work in order to discover physical, vocal, and emotional truths about themselves and their characters. The process for this show was truly collaborative, and the result was a production in which the process ,f creation was as much, if not more, rewarding than the final product.
Photos by Raimondo Genna and Callie Hisek. Used with permission.
Scenic Design by Tim Case; Lighting Design by Anthony Pellecchia; Costume Design by Linda Wigley Scribner
As You Like It
South Dakota Shakespeare Festival