March is off to a great start and it’s not just the weather! Our class at Paramount School of the Arts (I’ve been teaching Monday evenings since January) sticks with me throughout the week and it’s no different this sunny morning. We went overtime last night in an attempt to finish staging “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen. We’ve been dedicating the last hour of class to it for the past couple of sessions and always wish we had more time! When I announced time’s up, the students shouted “No!” so we went on for five, then ten more minutes! (Apologies to the parents!)

There’s a surge of teenage-focused contemporary musical theater making waves on Broadway and subsequently across the nation. Assigned to teach this class by Shannon Cameron titled Musical Theater Scenes, I came up with a point of entry into it to develop the students’ perception of songs as scenes. “A song is a scene.” With the collaboration of Thew Elliott’s music direction and instruction, we began to delve into the students’ selections and two solos were presented. My eyes were opened to a piece from Heathers, “Kindergarten Boyfriend” and “All Grown Up” from Bare: A Pop Opera. My heart and mind opened as well to these young people’s empathy toward the dark, emotional struggle of other young people; how individuals among their peers are unheard, unseen, intimidated and overwhelmed with being “on the outside always looking in.” There is a painful loneliness and rage – and loss. With this bright group of 14 to 18 year olds, for all their full, active lives and successes, they identify a yearning within themselves to helping them. Representing them. Speaking for them. Giving them their voice. In the coming months we’ll be tackling Stephen Sondheim’s “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along, a song extolling endless possibilities for the young protagonists’ future together, and from Spring Awakening, “The Song of Purple Summer” a pure, poetic expression of hope and the beginning of new life. In their journals that they’ve been asked to write in daily, it is my hope they are seeing themselves expressed in their own words. They’ve been asked to create monologues or poems or dances from their writing and underscore this work with recorded orchestral music of their choice as an elective project for the class as well. So much to look forward to!

The realization hits how everything we do in the arts is to cast light on and illuminate our lives, sharing the best of ourselves in the telling of stories.

The realization hits how everything we do in the arts is to cast light on and illuminate our lives, sharing the best of ourselves in the telling of stories. The folly, the foes, all intended for us to have a laugh, a thought, an inspiration. This certainly is the case with Paramount’s world premiere The Secret of My Success being enjoyed by our audiences right now! Here are samples from some of the crowd’s responses:

Wife: “When is this going to Broadway?”
Husband: “Who cares? It’s here now!”

And from others: “I love it! And it’s not going to be my last time seeing it either! I’ll be back for sure!”
“Such talent, very impressed!”

The Secret of My Success runs until March 29.

Happy March!

Love & thanks,