556 auditions in 14 flights of students over four days.
That’s what I have been doing this last week.
Several years ago, my boss Peter Sargent asked me to join the theatre faculty in Lincoln so that we could better assess the musical-theatre prospective students. I think that I’ve made this trip now six out of the last nine years. And it’s always a treat.
My colleague Bruce Longworth and I sit at the table for the long flights of auditions, wherein students have 90 seconds to present one or two songs or monologues. After a few flights of students, we issue a call-back list of those we’d like to see again.
These students then work with us individually in a hotel conference room, mostly on Friday and Saturday.
The follow-up for me is to send these students a personal note, and include links to various blog entries that may be helpful, including my listing of all the songs performed at auditions this week, audition tips, and a blog entry about contemporary musical theatre composers.
Five years ago this week, I met my beloved student Ben Love here at Thespians. I hope that five years from now I’ll be able to say the same thing about one of these students we met this week!
P.S. — this is what Ben looked like when I met him:
Greetings to friends and family around the world. I write on the day of the winter solstice, and note with sadness that this world seems particularly darker than it did a year ago. I pray for light and truth to again be kindled in the hearts of those who lead, and who alone can set to the tone for this world.
May it be so.
Even with the death of my father in the waning days of 2017, my own 2018 has been significantly brighter than national and international news might allow!
Winter. A solo cabaret act. Loads of teaching and concert-going and the robust time of the year at the office. A quiet winter without any significant travel except for a quick trip to Naples, Florida to see Spencer go on as Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I.
Spring. Begins with a trip to Moscow to discuss collaborations. Attend a concert in Tchaikowsky Hall. Tourist for full, long day in Moscow. Holy Week in London, with services at St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. My former student sings Gerontius at King’s College Cambridge. Wrap up the school year with a sizable graduating class. Pack up and finish work on my father’s estate. A week in NYC, and confirmation of a budding relationship. Solo/ensemble contest brings solid results. Senior recitals with three voice students. Attend the Tony Awards. Celebrated the completion of 10 years at Webster University.
Summer. Begins with a week in Lincoln at a conference. Then to Vienna on the Messing Faculty Award for three weeks of research and curriculum development. Side trips to Stockholm and Florence. Allergies abound in Vienna! Wept copious tears at the sight of Michelangelo’s David. Start the new school year with days of meetings, and a robust new-student class. Yufei visits Saint Louis. Start work with Variety Children’s Choruses as the new conductor. Celebrate my 57th birthday with a day of museum visits in Vienna, and a screening of The Third Man at a kino.
Autumn. Auggie turns 8. Sabbatical begins in mid-October. Accept a gig with Circus Harmony as composer and music director for the big January show. Start traveling immediately. Chicago with Yufei. Toronto and Niagara Falls with my nephew Luke. Washington, D.C. (pandas!!) and NYC with Yufei. Chicago again. And Christmas at home in Lee’s Summit with my sisters. Attend multiple Circus Harmony classes and practices. Conduct a holiday concert with the Variety Children’s Choruses. Attend Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Over the course of the year I’ve witnessed powerful live concert performances. Viewed some of the world’s greatest artworks. Learned more about cooking. Kept up the slow renovations on a 100+ year-old home. Enjoyed some stunning meals (Stockholm, Vienna, Chicago, NYC all were gastro-delight locations). Worshipped in grand and beautiful spaces. Composed some decent music. Shot loads and loads of photos (I’m starting to understand light much better). Whipped up homemade plum jam and blood orange marmalade. Taken various architectural tours. Read more books than the year before, and also a big chunk of the Bible. Extended my cufflink-buying spree with a dozen new pairs. Imparted lessons about singing, and about life, with students. Loved on my dog. Caught up with friends in far-flung places. Bought more new eyeglasses. Fallen in love.
Not a bad year indeed.
May 2019 bring us comfort and joy and challenges that we can together address.
I arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska last evening. This will be my home for the next week as I represent Webster University at the International Thespian Society annual conference a the University of Nebraska.
I rode in the van with Peter, James Compton, and Edward Coffield. We enjoyed several musical soundtracks, including Bridges of Madison County, A Gentleman’s Guide etc., Big Fish, and the first act of a new recording of West Side Story.
This was part of the playlist on the route to Nebraska.
Flat land in Tarkio County, Missouri.
As usual on the first night in Lincoln, we walked across the street for a nice meal at Misty’s Steakhouse. Of course the USA-Portugal soccer match was still on the screens, so several of us watched the conclusion of that game before dinner. My ribeye was perfect!
I enjoyed seeing how we all dressed for dinner. Our attire was nothing special, but without any instruction, eight of us switched from travel togs to dresses (for the girls) and slacks and collared shirt. I have restored hope in humanity….
Sunset over north Lincoln.
Our corner of the UNL campus.
Ribeye and au gratin potatoes at Misty’s Steakhouse in Lincoln.
Last evening, before going to sleep, I finished the novel The Pillars of the Earth. The story is grossly distended and overwritten, but it’s a good yarn, one that has held my attention for the last three weeks as I’ve chipped away at 900+ pages. The rest of this week will be more mundane: a few professional journals, some issues of Horticulture, Food and Wine, and (dirty secrets now) Entertainment Weekly.
And the conference starts at 4 p.m. today with five hours of auditions.