August 3, 2015
LIVONIA, Mich. – For two weeks in the summer, the auditorium and music classrooms at Madonna University become home to an intensive training program for high school students who are passionate about, and perhaps considering a career in, musical theater.
After days filled with sessions in dance, voice, monologue and audition practice and critique, the instruction ends with a student production "My Way to Broadway,” celebrating Frank Sinatra and contemporary Broadway. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7 and Saturday, Aug. 8 in Madonna University’s Kresge Hall. Admission is $5, and open to the public.
Led by Barbara Wiltsie, associate professor of voice at Madonna, and Patti Davidson-Gorbea, guest drama instructor, the program is geared toward talented students looking to refine their skills. Several past participants have gone on to study musical theater, music or drama at their college or university.
The instructors have high expectations for the students, because they know the students are capable. “We don’t baby them,” Wiltsie said. “We want to create an atmosphere where they’re supportive of each other.”
The students start each day with group dance instruction, which includes both basic training and specific choreography for their end-of-program performance. They close out the morning with ensemble music, and after lunch, attend a round robin of voice, drama and monologue lessons. Evenings are filled with such activities as professional-style audition practice, guest speakers and critiques, a talent agent visit, and movie-making fun with the help of Madonna’s Broadcast and Cinema Arts students.
At the final performance students will show off their refined techniques with a lead role in two scenes that include a song, and a scene or monologue. “Everyone will be featured somehow in the show,” Wiltsie said. Each night, an audience member also will be selected for a small role in a scene from the movie “Airplane”.
Kelsi Fay, left, and Caraline Weglarz, Livonia Churchill High School students and members of the Creative and Performing Arts program, participate in music practice as part of the summer music theater workshop at Madonna University.
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