Seven students have been rehearsing since January for the Music Theatre Workshop Cabaret, which will be on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Witherspoon Auditorium. The performance is free to the public.
Students participating in the On Track program, which encourages students to network and attend events on campus, can come to this performance for the Global Focus track.
The cabaret falls under this category because students will discover aspects of a culture different from their own and can compare and contrast those differences, Director of Campus Life Aubrey Holt said.
A cabaret consists of songs from multiple musicals from a variety of eras, Holly Ruth Gale, associate professor of music and an instructor of the course, said. The songs are separated into different acts, the performers wear all black clothing and there are no props.
Gale said this gives the students an opportunity to change the context of the song because it isn’t dependent on the musical; it also creates more of a challenge.
“It’s not just about standing and singing pretty,” Gale said. “It really is about being emotionally and intellectually engaged with your text and singing well, and then you have to keep your audience engaged. It’s easier said than done.”
The theme of this semester’s cabaret is emotions, Gale said. The first half is about laughter, and the second half encompasses deeper emotions.
Gale said people in the audience’s cheeks will be sore by the end of the performance because they will be smiling so much.
Ken Futterer, associate professor of music, and Gale created Music Theatre Workshop (MTW) 15 years ago.
Futterer said he saw a real need for a musical theater class at Tech because there were no other classes like it. He asked Gale to teach the class with him.
Both Gale and Futterer are directors, but Gale is also a professional performer. Futterer said they have complimentary skills and that they have a symbiotic partnership.
Gale and Futterer said that the best part of the class is seeing the progress their students make in the semester.Most students who first join MTW have little experience in musical theater, Gale said. She enjoys watching them become more comfortable performing.
“That’s the thing I get the biggest kick out of, watching them getting more confident in that process, less concerned with their own insecurities and more engaged and involved in the performance,” Gale said.
Current students enrolled in the course are Zach Brown, Jordan Ladyman, Kaylin Parsons, Emily Shain, Hannah Shellito, Natosha Shirley and Fairy Xu.
Zach Brown, senior instrumental education major from Hot Springs, is in his second semester of MTW. He said he wanted to join as many ensembles as he could when he came to Tech and this one has helped with stage comfort.
“Seeing people with no experience come along and, in the course of a semester, blossom into somebody who is willing to stand up on stage and really deliver a song with tons of personality has been incredibly exciting,” Futterer said.
Brown said that the cabaret is a good bridge between pop music to the classical side, for those who don’t know a lot about music.
Futterer said the performance is more personal than other music events at Tech.
“This type of show is all about an artist personally reaching out and making emotional contact with someone in the audience,” Futterer said. “It’s also a great way of getting some of the great music from America’s musical traditional show tunes, but you don’t have to drive to New York.”
UPDATED 4/9: The date of the Cabaret was changed.