Thursday, July 31, 2014

Acting Out: The Orpheum's Musical Theatre Intensive

Director/Choreographer Jeff Whiting teaches Broadway
choreography to Musical Theatre Intensive students.
You might have noticed that construction is well-underway for the Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts and Education.  Once completed, the Centre will provide much-needed space to expand our Education programs.  But while we wait patiently for the Orpheum's new facility, our programs are going strong!

Yesterday at Collage Dance Collective, a student group of Broadway hopefuls wrapped up three full days of training from Broadway professionals as part of the Orpheum's Musical Theatre Intensive.

Offered each year as one of the Orpheum Theatre's celebrated summer camps, the Musical Theatre Intensive is a three-day workshop that gives students a taste of what a career in musical theatre is really like.  This year students focused on the art of the audition.  Broadway actors and directors taught students actual Broadway choreography, shared NYC trade secrets regarding agents and acting unions, and coached them on how to sharpen their musical audition techniques. 

In true Orpheum fashion, students learned from highly experienced teaching artists: Jeff Whiting, Jake Speck, and Teddy Eck, who curated the workshop.  These three theatre professionals collaborated to give students all the tools they need to prepare themselves to make that first step into the biz.

Among his many Broadway credits Jeff Whiting, who focused on teaching students audition choreography, was the Associate Director for this year's Tony nominated production Bullets Over Broadway.  Not only that, he's directed and choreographed for a long list of your favorite Broadway shows and national tours.  Little shows like, oh I don't know, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and the fifth anniversary production of Wicked.  Yes, Wicked!

Musical Theatre Intensive students practice their
song selections with coaching from actor Jake Speck.
Students also got to work with Jake Speck, whom most of us would recognize from Broadway's Jersey Boys and a few episodes of our own Tennessee TV hit "Nashville."  Not to mention that he's worked with some of the most famous Tony Award winners in the biz, such as Susan Stroman.  Jake taught students how to perfect their 16-bar song selections and gave them the do's and don'ts of preparing for an audition.

The intensive was curated by actor/director Teddy Eck, who has over a decade of NYC acting experience including Off-Broadway's Richard III and the award-winning Steven Spielberg hit Lincoln as well as an extensive local resume of directorial creditsTeddy worked in collaboration with the team to teach students about acting unions (which one you need and when you need one) and agents (what they do and how to get their attention).

This hands-on workshop culminated in a mock audition where a panel of local arts professionals and educators gave students a chance to exercise their new skills in front of a fresh audience.  Armed with finely tuned song and dance audition pieces, these students are one step closer to taking Broadway by storm!

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