Sunday, September 18, 2016

Students on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: A Week with David Yazbek

If you happened to walk through the Earley Center for the Performing Arts within in the last four days, you were sure to have seen Theatre Majors and Music Majors alike in a flurry of excitement, wonder and nerves. But above all, you'd hear mention of one very important name - David Yazbek.

During this past week, MNSU's Department of Theatre & Dance has been honored to have played host to Two-Time Tony Nominated Composer/Lyricist, David Yazbek. Among his most popular works are Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and The Full Monty (which happens to be the first show in MNSU's 2016-2017 Mainstage Season!) 

Throughout his residency, Yazbek was kind enough to hold a series of workshops and Master classes for students. Beginning Thursday afternoon, he held a Pop and Rock and Jazz Master class for musicians and composers and a Songwriting Master class for composers and lyricists. That evening, Yazbek spent time working with the Orchestra Members of MSU's production of The Full Monty. Here he gave advice, worked through problem spots, and gave input on what he heard (No surprise, he LOVED it!)

Nick Wayne (Music Director/Conductor) and David Yazbek work through the score!
Friday was spent in a series of Q&A sessions. The first, titled Making a Broadway Musical, was a discussion about all aspects of mounting a major musical. With his multitude of experience, it was fascinating for students to hear what he said to say! Following that, he held an open Q&A session where students could ask whatever they pleased! Yazbek, being the kind and open man that he is, was thrilled to answer anything that came his way, which was absolutely wonderful for the students!

That evening, the cast of MSU's The Full Monty was elated (and maybe a bit nervous) to have David Yazbek join them for a sing-through of the show! Much like his time spent with the Orchestra, Yazbek offered advice and thoughts on how our students were doing with his music! He had wonderful things to say and was sure that MSU would put on a fantastic production of his show!
David Yazbek with the cast of MSU's The Full Monty

Saturday was a very special day for many Theatre Majors. Yazbek held a three-hour Vocal Master class, where some very lucky students had the opportunity to perform a song and receive feedback from David himself! Our students put out some stellar performances and received some advice that they'll never forget! Below are a few fun pictures from the class!
Gabe Sell (Junior BFA) performs "Great Big Stuff"

3rd Year Musical Theatre MFA, Erin Horst shows us how it's done!
Mikhayla Clausen (Junior BFA) sings from the musical Urinetown.
Emily Scinto (Senior BFA) belts it out!

(Senior BFA) Maureen O'Malley performs a song from Parade.
(Sophomore BFA) Cam Pederson shows us some moves!
Saturday evening hundreds gathered in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall to enjoy "An Evening with David Yazbek." This program was designed to showcase the talents of David Yazbek and his work. David entertained the audience with a few numbers and then turned it over to the students of MSU's Theatre Department. Cast members from MSU's The Full Monty gathered to perform three numbers from their upcoming production including "It's A Woman's World", "Big-Ass Rock" and "Michael Jordan's Ball." Following that, a select few students performed numbers from David Yazbek's other two shows. Gabe Sell (Junior BFA) performed "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Senior BFA's Amanda Mai and Daniel Lane performed "Love is My Legs", also from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Finally, from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, we heard "Lovesick" performed by Senior BFA, Emily Scinto

This week brought new experiences and great memories to every student and teacher involved. David passed on an incredible amount of information, and was kind, engaged and open the entire time. We were thankful to have him here with us and wish him the best in the future! THANK YOU DAVID!

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