Opera Workshop to feature music from Broadway shows

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October 29, 2018


Photo credit: Spencer Vogel

Since 2000, many great musicals have premiered on Broadway and other locales.

Of course, there’s the mega-hit “Hamilton,” which made its debut in 2015. But there were many other productions of note, including “Jersey Boys” (2005), “Book of Mormon” (2011), “Dear Evan Hansen” (2015) and “The Greatest Showman” (2017).

Any way you cut it, it’s a great body of work. And, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Opera Workshop will tap into that catalog with “A Musical Revue” featuring scenes from 14 Broadway shows which debuted from 2000 to the present.

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8-9, and 2 p.m. Nov. 10-11 at the Colman Black Box Theater, Benedicta Arts Center, College of Saint Benedict. The performance will run about one hour and 15 minutes, and is free and open to the public (a $2 donation is encouraged).

The student cast includes 28 singers: Ellie Botz, Emily Booth, Aryana Chellgren, Amber Cigelske, Raven Dames, Page Daniels, Maija Eickhoff, Cody Ewald, Zachary Fimon, Katie Hinrichs, Reagan Hightower, Callie Huus, Matt Kiminski, Michael Kennedy, Mary Lara, Natalie McGlinch, Nora Merk, Elliot Olson, Elizabeth Padula, Madelaine Padula, Jack Pieper, Noah Polipnick, Maria Schneider, Olivia Solano, Isiah Svoboda, Tessa Venables, Alyssa Wedin and Kyle Yetzer. Three pianists, a drummer and a saxophonist will also bring the music to life.

The themes represented include betrayal, building trust, competition with rivals, surviving stardom, coming of age issues, the power of the Internet community and all facets of experiencing love.  

Tom Speckhard, instructor of opera at CSB and SJU, is the director of the show. The choreographer is David DeBlieck, visiting assistant professor of theater at CSB and SJU, and the music director is Carolyn Finley, professor of voice and opera at CSB and SJU.

“Our musical revue is indeed a break from the norm,” Finley said. “We seldom perform musicals for an Opera Workshop production … in my 30 years here, this production will be the fifth musical revue, where a variety of scenes from musicals are excerpted to build a show.”

Finley posed questions to her musical friends via Facebook asking if there were scenes from current shows that they could recommend.

“The response was overwhelming. I listened to each recommended scene and attempted to choose a variety of singing acting styles. Our cast is getting a workout in every way,” Finley said.

The CSB/SJU Opera Workshop provides an opportunity for students to give in-depth study, practice and presentation of classical and contemporary works of opera and musical theater. The group regularly stages full operas as well as revues and excerpts from a variety of stage works.

Participation is by audition only and requires the consent of Finley and Speckhard.