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December 2, 2011 > Musical theatre students take their show on the road

Musical theatre students take their show on the road

By Diane Daniel

The Theatre and Dance Department of California State University, East Bay - the only Bay Area institution of higher learning to offer an option in musical theatre - will be showcasing its talents at Northern California high schools and community colleges this fall. Come spring, the CSUEB dance program will do the same.

"The popularity of musical theatre in high schools today is higher than it has ever been," said Darryl V. Jones, associate professor of theatre and dance, and director of the department's music theatre ensemble option. "A great deal of credit goes to the television show 'Glee,' which has made it cool to be a theatre nerd. Show choirs and musical theatre dance ensembles are taken very seriously in high school, and they compete against other schools just like the sport teams do."

The veteran performer, teacher and director said it takes rigorous training and discipline to master musical theater's three pillars: acting, singing, and dancing - simultaneously. Under Jones's direction, students Nick Tarabini, Samantha Guida, Marie Ibarra, Marena McGregor, Angelica Edwards, Hendrix Erhahon, Kira Sullivan, and Sierra Dee will present 50-minute performances at schools in Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Dublin, and Oakland to entice vocal music and/or drama students to enroll at CSUEB.

Performances will include a selection of numbers from such shows as "The Wiz," "Starting Here, Starting Now," "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," "The All Night Strut," "The Addams Family," "Company," "Baby," and "Dreamgirls."

Jones' students go through a series of exercises to visualize/internalize images that different tempos, tonalities, moods, rhythms, and harmonics create, resulting in a powerful connection between music, imagination and emotion.

"While our work is wonderful, and alumni speak well of their education, not enough high school and community college students think of us as a destination campus or department," said Thomas Hird, professor and chair of theatre and dance.

Music theatre graduates who have already found professional roles include Kate McDermott ('08), who performed in Theatre Works' "Caroline or Change;" Caitlin O'Leary ('10), who has been in Broadway by the Bay's "Into the Woods," and Contra Costa Musical Theatre's "A Chorus Line;" Lauren Herman ('10), "Annie" and "La Cage aux Folles" with Broadway by the Bay; and Reggie White, class of '11, who has performed at the Berkeley Rep., TheatreWorks, and The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.

Schools still hoping to host a music theatre or dance demonstration can contact the department at (510) 885-3118.

The public will have an opportunity to attend several music theatre performances. "That's Life, That's Love, That's Broadway," an original program by Jones and Sierra Dee, will be performed December 8-11; "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" will be on stage March 2-3, and March 9-11 on CSUEB's Hayward campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. Additional information is available at http://www20.csueastbay.edu/class/departments/theatre/performances.html.

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