BWW Special Report and Reviews: A Visit to Broadway With The BWU Senior Class
OnStage's 2018-2019 rankings of musical theater programs ranked Cleveland suburban Baldwin Wallace University' as number 1 in the nation, indicating that it was the "top destination for any student wanting to study musical theatre."
The OnStage research team was impressed that the BW program "has produced six regional premieres in partnership with Playhouse Square [the country's largest performing arts center outside of New York] and received national attention for academic premieres of Broadway productions."
The program, which is headed by Victoria Bussert also has strong professional theatre ties to Beck Center, Great Lakes Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.
Bussert, is supported in developing the students' talent by Gregory Daniels, Dance Program Coordinator and Matthew Webb, Music Director.
BW grads appear on Broadway, in touring companies, in regional theaters and on cruise ships. Last year at least 25 were in Broadway runs and touring shows.
The students' training reaches its crescendo when the senior class travels to New York in April to perform before agents, casting directors and other Great White Way luminaries.
Last year, all of the BWU class of 2018 grads got agents, many having multiple offers. Besides agents, at least a half-dozen were offered tryouts in present, upcoming, touring and soon-to-be touring shows.
As I did last year, I attended rehearsals at BW and went to New York with this year's seniors. Members of the class are Amy Keum, David Holbert, Noa Luz Barenblat, Joshua Regan, Kelsey Anne Brown, Zach Landes, Matthew Henry Pitts, Emmy Brett Jake Salter, Gilian Jackson Han, Courtney Hausman, Sam Columbus, Warren Egypt Franklin and Tia Karaplis.
All four of the workshops, which were performed at New World Stages, were packed.
According to Bussert, "The class had over 150 requests with 9 of them called in for Broadway auditions."
Want to see the group before they hit the Broadway stages? The class will perform as a unit at Cleveland Heights' Nighttown on April 29. For tickets and information, go to www.nighttowncleveland.com
Besides attending the showcases, I saw some shows. Here are capsule judgments of what I saw. To read the complete reviews go towww.royberko.infoand scroll down to find the show.
What: FIDLER AFN DAKH ongefelt mit Yiddisha traditsyeun veytik
(FIDDLER ON THE ROOF filled with Jewish tradition and pain)
Where: Stage 42
Capsule judgment: The Yiddish version of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (FIDLER AFN DAKH) is not the FIDDLER of old, with a new set and costumes. It's a more emotionally moving story and less entertaining. It is more fitting in the telling of what was, but is no more. The authenticity created by using the "real" language of these people adds to the tale filled with Jewish tradition and pain.
What: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is a farcical delight!
Where: New World Stages
Capsule judgment: Like any well-written farce, the quality of the ridiculousness is only as effective as the cast and director. In the case of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, all of the needed elements are present and hysteria reigns.
What: MEAN GIRLS, a musical for youth of the 2019s
Where: August Wilson Theatre
Capsule judgment: MEAN GIRLS is filled with music, characters and Tina Fey satire that will appeal to young audiences. It is a show that will do very well on tour (it will be on stage at Cleveland's Connor Palace from December 3-22, 2019) and will be performed by every community theater and high school in the country when it is released for amateur production. Go. Enjoy.
What: Exquisite, delightful, MY FAIR LADY captivates at Lincoln Center
Where: Vivian Beaumont Theatre
Capsule judgment: My Fair Ladyhas deservedly been called "the perfect musical" and the Lincoln Center revival will do nothing but increase the respect level. The staging is glorious. The stage pictures exquisite. The performances universally enchanting. "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" if all Broadway shows could reach this pinnacle of writing, staging, performance and musical excellence?