Feature: Lucky To Be Me: MSMT Singers Perform Around the State

A select group of young professionals will practice their craft in Maine this Summer.

By: Jun. 08, 2024
Feature: Lucky To Be Me: MSMT Singers Perform Around the State
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“We perform in parking lots, restaurants, tents, bandshells, and lovely venues like this one,” declares Maine State Music Theatre’s Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark. He is addressing a full house in the Lunt Auditorium at Oceanview at Falmouth on May 30. It is only one of over 95 free public outreach events that MSMT offers in the course of each year,  but today is special because it introduces the new 2024 crop of MSMT Singers in their second public performance since arriving in the state.

An outgrowth of the company’s former intern program, the MSMT Singers are an elite group of young (college-age) professionals selected by Clark in an annual nationwide search that holds over 3000 auditions for eight spots. “These young artists have to sing, dance, and act on a scale of at least an 8 out of 10 when they come here,” Clark explains, “and when they leave, I expect that they will have grown into the stars they are going to be.”  

The MSMT Singers program is a source of great pride for the theatre, just as discovering and nurturing these “kids” seem to be one of Clark’s superpowers.  Last season alone there were some forty MSMT alumni working on Broadway and national tours.  “It is a commitment to the future of our profession that MSMT takes very seriously,” says Clark.

The concert at Oceanview at Falmouth featured each of the eight singers in a solo number, accompanied by MSMT‘s Associate Music Director, Jacob Stebly and shepherded by their own stage manager, Megan Franco.  Clark introduced each of the performers and allowed them to talk a bit about themselves and their journeys into the world of theatre. He then kicked off the program and sweetened the afternoon by performing two snippets from roles he has often played – “Younger Than Springtime” and “White Christmas” - reminding the audience why he has been legendary as Lieutenant Cable and Bob Wallace.

Feature: Lucky To Be Me: MSMT Singers Perform Around the State Christian Lane Miller (Florida/U. of Miami)  opened the program with an animated rendition of “Lucky To Be Me” from ON THE TOWN, complete with a secure, high register and an abundance of energy and charm. He was followed by Mark Tran Russ (Queens, NY/Shenandoah U.) singing “That’s Life,” using his warm baritone to appealing effect in the tune made popular by Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and others.  Krohmer ( Bristol, PA/Elon U.) delivered a lyric interpretation of “I Believe in You” from HOW TO SUCCEED in BUSINESS.  Karoline Brechter (Bridgewater, MA/U.Southern Maine) demonstrated a sparkling coloratura soprano in “ Like Love” from CHARLIE GIRL. Calista Jones (Knoxville, TN/Maryville College) offered a relaxed intimacy and creamy tone in “Blue Moon.  Thomas DalCeredo (Westchester, NY/Temple U.) impressed with his clear, firm tenor and impeccable diction in Sondheim’s “Everybody Says Don’t” from ANYONE CAN WHISTLE.  Jessica Hoadley (Wilmington, NC/North Carolina U.), with backup from the group, sang a melting rendition of “What I Did for Love” from A CHORUS LINE, and Lav Raman (Pittsburgh, PA/Penn State U.) capped the afternoon with an intense and powerful “Gimme, Gimme” from THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE.

The group reconvened the following week on June 6 at what has become an annual tradition: a concert and conversation at Brunswick’s People Plus, hosted by their Executive Director, Stacy Frizzle. Clark presented the eight singers, their stage manager, and music director, as well as audio/visual technician Kaleb Pecoraro and choreographer Veronica Druchniak, 2023 Miss Maine, to the nearly one hundred people in attendance. This time, the afternoon’s program focused on a capella ensemble pieces. Many old favorites like “Let the Good Times Roll,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “This Can’t Be Love” arranged with interesting new harmonies showcased the group’s vocal skills.

Frizzle led the questioning and allowed the young artists to talk about their paths to performing; their experiences ran the gamut from being a child comprimario in TOSCA, to a pre-professional soccer player, to a ballerina, to a professional ice skater, to serving as Miss Maine. In every case, the passion of these artists was clearly demonstrated.

Clark talked about his selection process in auditions and what made each of the performers special. He ended by declaring, “Victoria Crandall, our founder, would be proud!”  

And, indeed, after witnessing the MSMT Singers in their first two weeks in Maine, one readily can concur: MSMT has every reason to be proud of them, of the company’s 65-year past, its present-day extraordinary artistic excellence, and its bright future, which it is insuring in so many ways - not the least of these with the MSMT Singers program.

Photos courtesy of MSMT & the author


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