By Brittany Montgomery
Sounds of familiar tunes flowed through Hughes Recital Hall Friday night as students performed Broadway and opera selections for the Opera/Musical Theatre Gala. The performance began as the cast filed down the two side isles, surrounding the audience with melodies from West Side Story.
This popular performance did not come easily though, as Director of the Gala George Hogan expressed by explaining the rigorous standards he held for all participants.
“We expect perfection and excellence. We will never achieve that, but that’s the race we should run,” Hogan said.
He also explained more about the structure of the Gala. Hogan assigned students to each song according to which ones he thought best suited them based on their auditions. The cast took their assignments, researched background information and rehearsed intensely in preparation for the show.
Freshman vocal performance major Gerald Nicholas felt the pressure as he practiced for his parts with “no waste of time, ever.”
With only a few short weeks to learn and perfect several pieces, he was hard-pressed to succeed. Nicholas was not the only one to dig deep researching his songs; the whole cast was dedicated to learning all of their performances. This unyielding dedication to learning and excellence was a common thread for all cast members.
Freshman vocal performance major Brooke Beasley explained how she and her duet partner, Emily Townsend, worked to understand the depth of the song they learned and performed together.
“We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the meaning behind the text of our song and trying to understand
the characters’ relationship,” Beasley said.
Even though there was a lot of hard work to be done beforehand, Beasley commented that it was an enjoyable experience because of the cast’s common love for what they were doing.
Beasley said that she loves “being a part of a group where everyone shares such an incredible passion for music and performing.”
Sophomore sports science major Seth Dickinson was impressed by the quality of each person’s performance at the Gala. Expecting to come and hear outstanding voices, he was surprised when the students started performing popular melodies.
He said, “It’s cool to see students sing songs you usually hear professionals sing.”
Dickinson was not the only one impressed by the Gala. The merger of well-known songs and the students’
personal styles made the performance enjoyable, according to those in attendance. A full house of
audience members of all ages offered an extended round of applause at the end of the show and congratulated the cast before leaving.
Hogan was as impressed by the performances as those in attendance.
“I am really proud of these guys,” he said.
The large number of freshmen in the cast combined with the quality of the songs fulfilled his expectations.
Reflecting on the power of music and the opportunity it provides. Hogan said, “There was a paradigm shift
with some of the students tonight. The future is now open.”