Renowned Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz said he loves taking a familiar story or character that his audience already knows and “spinning it” in a new direction.
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What I Learned …
Students reflect on their experiences working with Stephen Schwartz and his colleagues:
Stephen Schwartz and his work are as much a part of and influence on my generation as The Beatles was to our parents. His work with Disney shaped our childhoods, and his Broadway hits helped inspire and shape our decision to pursue the art of theater. In talking and listening to him talk about his life, work and career, it was incredibly inspiring to realize that he is simply another artist who started out just like us and just yearned to create as we do. Our professors instill in us the idea that art is about the process of creating, not the product.
I sang “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas for Stephen Schwartz. Pocahontas IS my childhood, my favorite Disney princess. Her strength, wisdom, power, and passion as a character are qualities I live by, so getting to sing her material is a gift in itself. Singing it for the man who created it — beyond words. He gave me the simple note to smile, and while instantly brightening up my sound as a vocalist, it also energized my performance.
It was an incredibly magical two days. I know all the students walked out full of inspiration, recharged in the desire to work and create what we love. Standing on that stage in Schuster Hall next to the ever-inspiring Stephen Schwartz and looking out at all my peers, teachers and fellow artists who inspire me daily, and feeling the love in that room of people all united by the same desire to create and inspire others … THAT is something you can’t buy, can’t plan for, and can’t put into words.
— Ria Villaver, Senior Musical Theater Major, Cincinnatti
“Throughout this workshop, I’ve learned that one of the most important things you can do as an artist is to bring what makes you special as an individual into your work on the stage. If you show who you are, then your work will shine.
I’ve also learned that if you use the music to express what you, as the character, are feeling on the inside, the song will take care of itself in terms of how it sounds. The music expresses what the character can’t put into words.
My favorite part was hearing what Stephen had to say during the Q&A session. He was so sincere about the business, and very humble about his own beginnings. His advice about perseverance in the acting world will stick with me as I pound the pavement in search for work in the big city.”
— Cameron Blankenship, Junior Acting Major, Hamilton
“Debbie made a great point by making people think about where they want to be in five years and encouraging everyone to aim high. I truly believe that people walked away with a lot to think about and more confidence in what they want to do and walked away thinking their dreams to be more real and possible than they have been told or than they tell themselves.”
— Monique Cooper, Freshman Vocal Performance Major, Kettering
“In the master class with Scott Coulter, I learned different ways of inserting myself into a song. To keep me from thinking too much about singing, I had to walk around the room in a big circle with one shoe off like Cinderella.”
— Amanda Bessler, Junior Music Education Major, Tipp City
How to Go
What: “Grand Hotel: The Musical”
When: 2 p.m. today, (Sunday, March 24); 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28; 8 p.m. Friday, March 29; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 30 and Sunday, March 31.
Where: Festival Playhouse, Wright State University
Tickets: $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors. Call the Theatre Box Office at (937) 775-2500.
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return.”
— Excerpt from “For Good” in the Broadway musical “Wicked”
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
To see video of Stephen Swartz’s visit to Wright State University see: