BWW Previews: LOST IN ANN ARBOR IS FOUND IN DETROIT at Special Cabaret 313 Concert of University of Michigan Musical Theatre Seniors
On Saturday, January 26, the maize 'n blue are coming to Midtown Detroit. The incredibly talented University of Michigan Musical Theatre Seniors (UMSMTD) will be performing two shows (the 6:30 p.m. show is already sold out) as part of the Cabaret 313 series at the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. Broadwayworld.com/Detroit spoke with University of Michigan (UM) Department of Musical Theatre Assistant Professor of Music Jason DeBord about the upcoming Lost in Ann Arbor concert and here's what the Music Director and Pianist had to say:
BroadwayWorld (BWW) Detroit: Tell us about your Broadway career prior to coming to the University of Michigan (UM) Department of Musical Theatre as its Assistant Professor of Music.
Jason DeBord: I have worked as a professional musician for over 30 years. I spent 17 years working in New York City and worked as a keyboardist and conductor on the original productions of Rent, Bat Boy, Legally Blonde and Shrek, among others. The last year I lived in New York, I was the resident music supervisor for the Broadway production and world tour of Once - The Musical.
BWW Detroit: How long have you been working at University of Michigan?
Jason DeBord: I am thrilled to be in my fifth year at the University. My responsibilities in the department include: teaching sophomore performance with my colleague Mark Madama, music-directing one of our mainstage musicals (this year it was Passing Strange), performing at many special events with our students and music directing the annual Senior Showcase.
BWW Detroit: Who will be performing in Saturday's Cabaret 313 concert Lost in Ann Arbor?
Jason DeBord: We will have 20 students from the University of Michigan's School of Musical Theatre and Dance (UMSMTD) graduating Class of 2019 on stage. Stylistically, the repertoire we perform in this concert covers a huge spectrum of music, from golden age musical theatre to current pop. There aren't too many concerts where you'll hear "Love, I Hear" by Stephen Sondheim and Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Getting Back Together" in the same evening. I am the accompanist, and one of our students will be playing guitar on a couple of songs as well.
BWW Detroit: Why is it called Lost in Ann Arbor?
Jason DeBord: Each year, our graduating students present a Senior Showcase in both Ann Arbor and New York City. The purpose of the showcase is to act as an introduction for our students to industry professionals - theatrical agents, managers and casting directors. The repertoire we choose for showcase is specifically chosen to help frame our students to where they might best fit into the industry.
This concert is a happy side-effect of the UMSMTD Senior Showcase repertoire selection process where the students present songs that were considered as their showcase song but were ultimately not used - and "Lost in Ann Arbor."
BWW Detroit: How long have you all been rehearsing and, for something like this, how do they squeeze it in and balance it with the rest of their courseload?
Jason DeBord: This year, we began the repertoire selection process immediately following Thanksgiving break with our repertoire coach, and UM Musical Theatre alumnus, Todd Buonopane. The process of finding repertoire can take a lot of time. This year, we examined upwards of 70 pieces of music for our students before settling in on their final selections. We do this initial work in the evenings and on the weekends over a two-week period. We then work on elements of the Senior Showcase throughout the Winter and put the final performance together at the end of the term. The Senior Showcase is actually a class and part of our curriculum; the performance it culminates in is the final project.
BWW Detroit: Explain to our audience why they want to purchase tickets to Saturday's exclusive one-night-only concert:
Jason DeBord: This year, Senior Showcase in Ann Arbor is May 5th but, unfortunately, it sold out months ago--which is always the case--and our presentations in New York City are only open to industry professionals. Lost In Ann Arbor is a fun and interesting insight into the process of putting this specialized performance together.
BWW Detroit: What are your final thoughts about the UM Senior Showcase?
Jason DeBord: Beyond being an introduction for graduates of our program to the industry, working on Showcase carries special meaning for our faculty; it's our final collaboration with our graduating students after four years of intense work together. It's an exciting time, and we're thrilled to watch what our alumni accomplish as they head out into the world.
Tickets for the 8:45 p.m. Cabaret 313 concert of Lost in Ann Arbor at the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, located at 52 E. Forest Ave. in Detroit, on Sat. Jan. 26 can be purchased by going to: http://cabaret313.org/shows-tickets/u-of-m-musical-theatre-seniors/.