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BWW Blog: Connecting with My Favorite Artists - Frosty's World #10

The snow is piling up in Cleveland, so I’m lucky to have a warm dorm room to ignore homework and connect with my favorite artists.

BWW Blog: Connecting with My Favorite Artists - Frosty's World #10

One of the big events each year in the Cleveland theater scene is the show put on between the Beck Center for the Performing Arts and Baldwin Wallace University's Musical Theater Program. Not even a pandemic can get in the way of this collaboration, now in its tenth year. This year's streaming performance may be a little less grand than last year's The Scottsboro Boys, but it might be more memorable! The presentation of Five World-Premier 15 Minute Musicals features the winning entries to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Spring 2020 competition. Baldwin Wallace Professor Victoria Bussert served as one of the referees for the national writing competition and directed one of the short works (Perpetual Sunshine and the Ghost Girls) in collaboration with her BW colleague Matthew Webb, who serves as Musical Director for the entire project. The list of participants in this collaboration is a dream team, including renowned Broadway orchestrator Lynn Shankel.

BWW Blog: Connecting with My Favorite Artists - Frosty's World #10

No spoilers here. It takes longer to write intelligently about a 15 minute musical than to enjoy one. Can an online viewer make an emotional connection with fictional characters over the course of 15 minutes? The astounding answer is five "yesses." The pandemic world was addressed in a touching way by Nico Juber's work Holo, directed by Broadway veteran and Baldwin Wallace alumna Ciara Renee (Elsa from Frozen). BW students Mackenzie Meyh and Bryanna Cuthill gave haunting performances. Perpetual Sunshine and the Ghost Girls is outstanding -- polished and haunting. The musical energy that the BW students put into Rodeo Clowns (Dale Sampson, Mark Campbell) and White Man's Burden (Joshua Davis, Eric C. Jones) sustains vital plot lines. Baldwin Wallace student Mateus Cardoso carries Monster on the Lawn (Obed de la Cruz), a work about a small boy's trauma and fantasy.

In hosting this musical play writing competition, the NAMT aimed to show that, " . . . musical theater has the power to elevate the human experience and uplift each other." Mission accomplished. The performances can be streamed to your warm sofa any time before February 28th.

The snow is piling up in Cleveland, so I'm lucky to have a warm dorm room to ignore homework and connect with my favorite artists. You probably haven't heard of Zachary Stevenson, an actor, musician and singer. He is commonly called the "dead ringer for dead singers" and he's best known for his portrayals of Buddy Holly, Hank Williams and Phil Ochs. I had the good fortune to see him at Chicago's American Blues Theater, and became an instant fan. We reconnected during his recent streaming performance of The Day the Music Died: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, held on February 3rd, commemorating the tragic death of these three superstars in a plane crash. I've seen lots of tribute shows and jukebox musicals, but Stevenson shines with his musical talent, and his easy, impromptu humor with the audience. If you are watching on your laptop, other people will gather around to watch and listen. Some people just have "it."

BWW Blog: Connecting with My Favorite Artists - Frosty's World #10

Speaking of tribute shows, Cleveland Playhouse Square just streamed a Broadway Profiles webchat featuring the new cast of the 2019 Tony Award - nominated Ain't too Proud (written by Dominique Morisseau), the musical based on the music of the Temptations. Broadway veterans Nik Walker (Aaron Burr in Hamilton), Jelani Remy (Simba in Lion King) and James Harkness took part. Harkness is a favorite of mine -- a master Broadway actor but also burned in my mind as the proprietor of Le James Cafe of the Wiggles! Once the restrictions of this pandemic are eased, I'll get my Cleveland Playhouse Square Redcoat usher badge renewed and find a way to schedule work on the day of that performance! a??a??a??a??a??a??a??

It has been a busy time for streaming appearances of many Hamilton veterans. To celebrate Valentines Day, we were in the Zoom where it happened! I've mentioned my favorite web gem RDU On Stage and their collaboration with Coloring Broadway, who sponsored the most recent Community Coloring Night with Special Guest Mike Anthony. Anthony is the author of the book, Life at Hamilton. He tells a fascinating story of his experiences as a bartender at Richard Rodgers Theater -- night after night encountering the patrons that had scored the hottest tickets on the planet.

BWW Blog: Connecting with My Favorite Artists - Frosty's World #10

Closer to campus, Baldwin Wallace's Yellow Jacket Activity Board Entertainment Series sponsored a live stream with Hamilton's George Washington, Bryan Terrell Clark. The conversation was personal and fresh. Clark has overcome a lot of challenges in his life. He credits his mother as a lifesaver -- helping him overcome a difficult environment growing up. He warned listeners about social media, where likes and shares substitute for real life interactions. Each day, he writes down ten things he is grateful for. Clark stressed, "Truth, love and authenticity are what you really need in life."

Eight to 12 inches of snow expected tomorrow. Gonna need a snow shovel too! a??a??a??a??a??a??a??


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From This Author Student Blogger: Laura Frost