University of Rochester

EVENT: This 'Student Project' is Presented on Stage, Not in the Classroom

November 29, 2004

Most students prove what they've learned in class by taking tests or writing papers for the instructor. But the 19 students in Kim Kowalke's musical theater workshop at the University of Rochester have to prove it to the world.

For two evenings, the students will show off their performance skills in a revue titled "Taking Flight!" The shows, at 8 p.m. on both Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, in Strong Auditorium on the University's River Campus, are free and open to the public.

The revue will feature 29 musical numbers that will spotlight the singing, acting, and performance techniques the students have sharpened over the past semester. Focusing on material composed in the last decade by leading writers for the American musical theater, the program will feature selections from A Little Night Music, 110 in the Shade, Assassins, Merrily We Roll Along, Carnival, and A New Brain.

The class is led by Kowalke, who is the Richard S. Turner Professor in Humanities and music department chair in the College, and by visiting instructor David Runzo. Runzo is known in the Rochester area for his direction of musicals, including productions at Blackfriars Theatre and the Jewish Community Center. Jonette Lancos, associate professor in the School of Performing Arts at SUNY Geneseo, has choreographed some of the revue's numbers.

The 13 students in the beginning section start with basic acting exercises, progressing to monologues, singing, and staging group scenes. For the six students in the advanced section, work revolves around the theater training exercises and assignments used at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, such as improvisation and creating musicals from individually selected songs. They also direct scenes acted by the first-year students.

The sections meet both separately and together to perform and critique presentations. Students spend additional time rehearsing and receiving extra coaching from Kowalke and Runzo.

The members of the musical theater workshop represent a cross-section of academic studies in the College. Though only some of the students plan to purse stage careers and most are not music or theater majors, all were admitted to the class by audition.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at (585) 275-2828.