This would normally be the week I would be at the International Thespian Society conference, doing the good work of Webster University.
The conference is virtual this year.
Memories from previous years:
I am a horrible person and forgot to post this on Saturday as I got busy with other projects.
On Saturday the new musical theater majors in the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts sang for faculty. This was the first time they had heard each other sing. Us too.
A good time was had by all.
International Thespian Festival.
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:
And this is what I looked like when I met Ben:
I was thinner five years ago.
I’m in Lincoln, Nebraska this week, representing Webster University at the annual International Thespian Festival.
And on Tuesday morning I took some to visit the state capitol building, one that in all these trips to Lincoln I’ve never actually seen. The morning air was lovely, and the 20-minute walk invigorating.
A small group toured the second-floor public spaces, in the unicameral legislative chamber and the old Senate chamber.
This building is quite the monument!
I attended this weekend a matinee of Love’s Labours Lost, presented by the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts. Five of my Webster voice students were in the show.
This show was exhilarating, fun, catchy, life-affirming. (The show was a musical, based on the eponymous Shakespeare play.)
My two seniors:
I love these guys so much, and I’m so happy for their choices, their growth, their drive, and their balance.
Ben Love and Jacob Flekier performed their senior showcase in New York City this week. Both are voice students of mine at Webster University.
I’m so proud of these guys!
Photos from the showcase performance:
Also this trip: I caught up with Webster University Department of Music alumna Jennifer Johnson Cano, who is tearing it up on the opera and concert stage, including this week at the Metropolitan Opera.
A full day! 11,415 steps, according to the iPhone. That’s 3.6 miles of walking. I believe it, based on how my feet feel Monday evening.
Looking west from my hotel room window, morning and late afternoon:
And looking north on 8th Avenue:
From my walk back to the hotel tonight:
I took Jennifer Johnson Cano to lunch on Monday, and also spent a couple of glorious hours at the New York City Public Library performing arts branch at Lincoln Center. Walking across Lincoln Center plaza with Jennifer felt like something out of a movie. And I had drinks and a nosh with my former student Jordan Parente Monday evening.
From the Library today, Jerome Robbins‘ Lincoln Center Honors award:
Yufei reminded me of why I love NYC so much:
I am once again in Lincoln, Nebraska for a week of student engagement at the International Thespian Festival.
We started the journey on Sunday morning, arriving in Lincoln less than 8 hours later.
And then the crew from Webster enjoyed a steak dinner at Misty’s, across the street from our Embassy Suites hotel.
I’ll have photos and updates throughout the week!
My fall performances-to-attend schedule is coming into focus, and I’ve purchased quite a few tickets in the past few days.
September 11 — our own jazz series
September 12 — South Pacific at Stages
September 13 — Curious Incident at Rep
September 15 — Harry Potter at SLSO
September 17 — Daniel Schene, piano, at Webster
September 18 — Paul DeMarinis Ensemble at Webster
September 24 — my own studio recital at Webster, and then a faculty recital that evening
September 25 — jazz series at Webster
September 29 — [title of show] at WebCo
September 30 — Lizzie at New Line
October 2 — Debby Lennon jazz concert at Webster
October 6 — Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in Chicago!
October 8 — Webster University Orchestra
October 9 — faculty recital at Webster
October 11 — The Bodyguard at the Fox
October 12 — Spring Awakening at Stray Dog
October 15 — two events at Webster
October 16 — Wind Ensemble at Webster
October 17 — faculty recital at Webster
October 18 — Muny Magic at the Sheldon
October 20 — Hamlet at the Rep
October 21 — The Wizard of Oz by Variety Club at the Touhill
October 22 — SLSO
October 30 — Webster University Chamber Singers pre-conference concert
I shan’t even think yet about November and December.
And there’s also five trips in October and November, which means I’m missing some other things here in town!
Today is the last day of summer vacation.
I return to the office tomorrow after four weeks away from my desk, and three weeks away from day-to-day schooling.
Yes, I’m ready to go back. But I’m also lamenting the loss of the the ease and freedom these last few weeks have brought!
J-Dog stopped by for a visit yesterday, since he is back in Illinois for a few weeks before returning to NYC. We ate at Adam’s Smokehouse, then drove out I-44 and MO-100 to New Haven to visit Pinckney Bend Distillery.
And I must say: the hooch at this distillery beat anything I sampled in Portland. Anything!
We also walked around to a glass-maker’s shop (where I bought a beautiful new glass vase that’s perfect in the living room, and a couple of glass ‘thumblers’ as a wedding present), and stopped by Röbbler Vineyard for a sampling there.
And then we went to his favorite local Mexican place. J-Dog departed for home, but he’ll be back in a few days to join me at the Muny.
J-Dog, a 2012 graduate of Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts, has just finished a months-long stint as entertainer on a major cruise ship in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. He’s a different guy than he was for four years as my voice student, and I couldn’t be more delighted for him!
And then the evening shift (and what a shift in tone and style it was!) — A Streetcar Named Desire at Union Avenue Opera. This was J’s first opera. I’m not certain this American tragedy by Tennessee Williams needed to be set to music, but I’m glad I saw it.
This morning = I sang at First United Methodist Church of Webster Groves.
And now, I must wash the car, finish some thing here at home, take a load of stuff to school, and prep for my return to a normal life.