This residency was be a co-sponsored event with Broadway Talks Back, a student-run initiative led by rising fourth-year Kristen Kelly, …
This residency was be a co-sponsored event with Broadway Talks Back, a student-run initiative led by rising fourth-year Kristen Kelly, and the University of Virginia Drama Department. The residency was with 2-3 performers from the contemporary professional American musical theatre. The event consisted of two-hour masterclasses for UVa students, as well as Q&A sessions and other opportunities for individual interaction. All events were open to the public.
The Arts Council generously awarded funding to the Drama Department to host residencies with 2-3 performers from the contemporary professional American musical theatre. Organized in partnership with Broadway Talks Back, a student-run initiative led by rising fourth-year Kristen Kelly, the residencies consisted of morning masterclasses for UVA students interested in musical theatre, as well as evening talkbacks open to the public. All events took place in the Caplin Theatre, and the two masterclasses were very effectively accompanied by Drama Dept. faculty member Greg Harris.The first residency took place on September 22 and featured Jessie Mueller, star of Waitress and many other notable shows. At her request, she worked with no fewer than ten students in the morning masterclass, where she proved to be an engaged and probing, but also sensitive and encouraging coach. The evening talkback drew 120 people and featured a wide-ranging discussion of Ms. Mueller’s career and the challenges of Broadway, very ably mentored by Kristen who drew on previously submitted questions from the audience. A reception followed at which students and community members had an opportunity to interact with Ms. Mueller.
The second residency took place on February 15 and featured Natasha Yvette Williams and Henry B. Gottfried, both of whom have impressive resumes in Broadway, off-Broadway, and touring shows. Their masterclass began with an ensemble number from Waitress, sung by twelve students. Approaching the performance from quite different perspectives, the two guests effected some remarkable changes by focusing variously on vocal production, affect, and physical presence. Subsequently they brought similar insights and productive suggestions to several solo and duet performances. The evening talkback drew 60 people and stood out for its honesty and good humor; responding to one another as well as Kristen, the guests revealed a great deal about the day-to-day workings of major theatre productions. And again, a reception allowed students and community members to interact directly with Ms. Williams and Mr. Gottfried.