Working with Wong (lyrics and libretto), Barker (composer), and head of the MFA Musical Theatre Program Robert Meffe, the students will 'workshop,' and then bring to life, a brand new film-to-musical adaptation of Mr. Holland's Opus, a 1995 Hollywood Pictures film.
'Workshopping' is an integral part of a new play's process that allows a creative team the opportunity to hear the musical aloud, then analyze and make changes to improve it. With only one week to prepare, eight MFA Musical Theatre students and two undergraduates will soon be at work learning the lines and score and will twice perform a no-frills version of the piece for Wong, Barker, and other industry professionals at the end of March.
"I cannot overemphasize what a game-changer this is for SDSU," says head of the MFA Musical Theatre Program Robert Meffe. "The idea that an internationally acclaimed theatre, television and film star like BD Wong is working in residence here is a great boon for our students. He and Wayne Barker are high-level professionals. And the fact that they will be working with graduate and undergraduate students on the adaptation of a beloved and well-known movie will garner the interest of a lot of people throughout the country, from LA to New York. This will put San Diego on the map in terms of developing musicals at SDSU."
Wong and Barker opted to make SDSU the point of origin for Mr. Holland's Opus because of the success they found working with Meffe on a developmental workshop of their musical Mr. Doctor in 2015.
"We found working with talented, enthusiastic and mature student performers like the ones we happily encountered at SDSU very beneficial to our show-building process," Wong and Baker said in a writer's statement, "and we also greatly enjoyed the sense that, from an educational standpoint, the unique work we were doing was kind of a once in a lifetime chance for them as well."
After receiving the go-ahead from D.J. Hopkins, Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film, Wong and Meffe began their latest collaboration.
The workshop readings of Mr. Holland's Opus will culminate for SDSU in December 2017, when the SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film presents a fully produced Workshop Premiere of Mr Holland's Opus, directed by BD Wong, with musical direction by Robert Meffe, in the Don Powell Theatre, as part of the 2017-2018 season. For more information about Mr. Holland's Opus and other upcoming theatre productions at SDSU, visit theatre.sdsu.edu.