BWW Review: UCF Seniors Leap for the Stars in Dream Roles Concert
What could be more exciting than a stage full of musical theatre students performing the roles they dream to play in the decade that lies ahead? Answer: Absolutely nothing. I was one of the fortunate audience members to share in the experience of night two of the Dream Roles Concert, performed by the UCF BFA Musical Theatre Senior Class (with half the class performing on December 12 and the other half on December 13). From the opening medley to the finale, all of the students had stars in their eyes and a fire in their hearts. UCF is known for attracting impressive talent and I can only imagine the pride felt by the staff, family and friends in the audience. I only wish I'd witnessed night one to have captured the complete essence of the pseudo recital.
First up was Leigh Green, who selected the vivacious role of Elizabeth Benning from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN to showcase her talent. She was dynamic throughout her performance and committed to her character in "Please Don't Touch Me." She has a bold voice and natural flair for humor.
Abigail Cline grabbed my attention during her quick but delightful Peter Pan moment in the opening sequence. For her feature, she played Katherine from NEWSIES. She is spritely, swift and doesn't miss a beat. Her sincere acting was a standout performance of the evening. Cline has that special broadway charm...the pixie dust and pizazz that should make her successful wherever she chooses to call her professional home.
Fo'i Meleah closed the first act as Joanne from RENT. Maleah gave a juicy, gutsy performance with velvety vocals. Leigh Green joined her for a smashing version of "Take Me or Leave Me." Watching Meleah belt out the lyrics, I couldn't help but think that she belongs on the stage and the audience seemed to wholeheartedly agree.
To open the second act, Gabe Friedman was an audience favorite with his rendition of Hedwig from HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, a show I have not seen before. The plot involves a genderqueer singer during the Berlin Wall crisis. Friedman was quite comfortable on stage and commanded our attention with inside jokes and good vocals. He delivered a tender and vulnerable performance in "Origin of Love."
Two seniors selected AIDA as their show of choice. Lindsey Wells conveyed a charming version of the love-to-hate, glamorous role of Amneris. She has a soft and lovely voice with beautiful eyes to hold your gaze. The choreography in AIDA was jazzy and memorable... not the average walk around, pause and sing stuff. Wells did a superb job in that role as well.
Khalifa White as Aida left me wondering if this concert was actually about past roles instead of future. This girl is good. She embodies a captivating grace and there is nothing ever forced or contrived about her movement. We will likely be seeing her name in lights.
The best numbers of the night came from White and Tyler Beauregard in "Easy as Life" and "Written in the Stars" where both young singers exhibited stellar voice control and swept the audience away with their authentic connection.
While Tyler Beauregard had his feature performance on night one, he played the supporting male role in two of the five features on night two and there is a good reason for his frequent appearances. He has a rarely seen, authentic stage presence that usually presents a bit later in life. My fingers are crossed he has plans to stick around Central Florida for local professional roles.
As the show closed I could feel the strong audience reaction as family and friends applauded the seniors for their years of challenging work in the Musical Theatre program. Rest assured that big roles and bright lights await many of these young performers from UCF. Visit dreamrolesconcert.weebly.com to learn more about these senior stars and http://theatre.cah.ucf.edu/ to learn more about the musical theater program at UCF.
Photo Credit: Tara Snyder