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COLLEGIATE THEATRICS: Oklahoma City University's Thomas Harton

Thomas Harton as Guido Contini in Oklahoma City University's Nine - photo by Ali Wonderly

Thomas Harton has come a long way since his high school days in Nashville - and you can be certain that once he graduates from Oklahoma City University, he'll be going even further.

A graduate of Nashville's School of the Arts and a 2012 Most Promising Actor, Thomas made a name for himself in local theater, performing in shows at Boiler Room Theatre, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theater and The Larry Keeton Theater, among others, seamlessly going from one role to the next, one theater to the next, showing a showbiz maturity that belied his relative youth.

Now a junior musical theatre major at Oklahoma City University's Wanda L. Bass School of Music he most recently took on the leading role of Guido Contini in Nine, which followed another star turn as Harry Beaton in Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon and as a member of the ensemble in Patti LuPone's Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda during her recent Oklahoma performance.

With fall semester 2015 fast coming to a close, Thomas found time to catch us up on what's been happening in his life as he preps for his future theatrical endeavors.

So, how's your college theater career going? Has it lived up to its advance hype? My career here at OCU is going very well! I just finished my first lead role in Nine and will soon be auditioning for next semester's line-up. In January, I have my junior recital which is my classical recital. Musical Theatre and Vocal Performance majors are required to give classical recitals their junior year. It's not the most fun thing, but it has made my voice improve by leaps and bounds.

What's been your favorite part of studying at OCU? OCU has many great qualities. The facilities of the music school are beautiful, the faculty and staff are phenomenal, and the training is top notch. I'd have to say my FAVORITE part though is the amount of performances that happen. We do three musicals and three operas every year that are faculty-led. Each semester there is a full production of a musical and an opera, as well as a "spotlight" performance of a musical or opera (Smaller stage, actor-provided costumes, little to no sets). There is also a student-led musical and opera each semester. All of those combined with the outside shows and performances give us countless opportunities to experience and work on a wide variety of theatre.

As Harry Beaton in Brigadoon

Have your future plans changed since arriving at OCU and seeing the realities of campus life? I wouldn't say my plans have changed, but they have certainly been expanded! I have a job working in the Dean's suite of the music school as a Performance Booking Manager. People come to me to hire our students for outside gigs. I'm sort of a collegiate talent agent. This combined with the casting directors and talent agents that come and give masterclasses and Q&A sessions really made me think about casting and management as another career option. I still plan on pursuing performance as a career, but it's nice to have options.

What collegiate theatrical moment looms largest in your mind to this point? Last year I had the opportunity to perform with Patti LuPone in her concert that toured here to Oklahoma. I would like to say that I acted calm and nonchalant about the whole thing, but it's hard to keep your heart from beating out of your chest when Patti makes eye contact with you and smiles. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be singing on the same stage as Patti LuPone.

What advice would you offer to high school students considering making the plunge? What we do is really hard work. There are a lot of times you will feel like you're a talentless sack of flour. Keep your chin up and remember that what you do on stage and in class has nothing to do with your worth as a human being. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes. Learn from them and move on.



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Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner launched... (read more about this author)


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