Five Manitobans with world-class experience in musical theatre are leading a master class — something that the pandemic played a part in, but can’t hold back.
"The Made in Manitoba master class is being led by former students of Winnipeg Studio Theatre, as well as colleagues, all of which came back home from where they were working because of COVID," Brenda Gorlick, co-director of the theatre school, said.
The master class, which starts on Aug. 17 and runs until Aug. 21, features teachers Mary Antonini on contemporary Broadway dance, Jaz Sealey on dance and choreography, Nyk Bielak on comedy with a focus on improv and impulses, Alexandra Frohlinger on audition techniques and the business side of the business, and Joseph Tritt on mock auditions and finding the perfect song.
"They’re all top professionals, working in places like Toronto, New York and Australia," Gorlick said.
"All their shows were shuttered due to the pandemic. Their goal is to introduce Winnipeg students to this international world."
Students were able to sign up for in-person classes — held to a minimum size due to pandemic precautions — or take part online. Antonini is known for her work in The Prom on Broadway, while her fiancé Sealey worked on Aladdin on Broadway. Bielak was working on The Book of Mormon in Australia, Frohlinger on the U.S. tour of Hello Dolly, and Tritt as a music director in Toronto.
The Winnipeg Studio Theatre is also preparing for two upcoming events — a Broadway Without Borders program for their junior academy class and they’ll be opening auditions for their musical Be More Chill, which is expected to be staged in May 2021. The studio is located at 20 Bard Pl. in south Tuxedo, and hosts classes at various locations in Winnipeg.
Broadway Without Borders is a collaboration between Gorlick and another instructor from California. This will combine Zoom sessions and in-person classes starting in September in conjunction with the TCA Riverside troupe in California.
"We will be producing an online musical with TCA called Super Happy Awesome News with music by Denver Casado and book by Jessica Penzias," Gorlick said, adding they hope to put on a live cabaret presentation in March 2021.
"Stacee Tweedlie and I met in an online Zoom class. Our goal is to train our respective junior students and record an online musical which we can stream to our audience, that combines our students," Gorlick said.
"It will introduce our students to the bigger musical scene. And who knows, if the borders open up again, we could do an exchange program in the future."
The auditions for the Joe Iconis musical, Be More Chill, are aimed at the senior academy, will also open up in September. Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, the musical is about more than surviving, Gorlick said.
"The story follows a character named Jeremy Heere, a high school student, who is at the bottom of the social ladder. He takes a pill to make him cool, a pill that’s actually a Japanese nanocomputer," she said. "But ultimately, it changes his whole world, and not necessarily for the better."
Up to 24 students are accepted into the senior studio program annually and gain entry through invitation or audition only.
For more, see winnipegstudiotheatre.com
The Sou'wester community journalist
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Susie got her first paying job as a journalist in the late '80s on the Free Press Weeklies, then followed that with 20 years as a reporter, photographer and specialty editor at the Winnipeg Free Press. She then spent 10 years working for WAVE magazine with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, before returning to her roots as the reporter/photographer for The Sou’wester. A little bit about Susie: She learns a lot from the people she interviews; She believes that community weeklies provide an invaluable record of community events, places and people; Thanks to all the interviews she's done, she's never met a hobby she won’t try, at least once. She's been thrown out of an airplane while strapped to an instructor, learned to skijor and do it moderately well, and tangled with all sorts of fibre arts. Do not get her started on tie-dyed fingers, lopsided clay pots, the explosion in the basement while brewing ginger beer and other epic failures. Call her at 204-697-7150 or email her at: email@example.com