Over their observed April Vacation, the FSPA presented a series of Master Classes and Industry Q&As to students as well as the general public free of charge on Facebook Live. The week kicked off with a Jazz Dance Master Class with Broadway’s Christopher Rice (Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, Pretty Woman) and Clay Thomson (WICKED, Newsies, Matilda, King Kong). The Broadway performers led students in a warmup and then taught a combination to “All That Jazz” from the musical Chicago.
On Tuesday, attendees enjoyed a live question and answer session with Broadway Digital Marketing Professional Ali Wonderly. Wonderly has worked on many Broadway shows including Hamilton, Moulin Rouge, Be More Chill, and Escape to Margaritaville. She discussed with students the business of Broadway and many “off-stage” theatrical career options.
Wednesday continued with a Ballet Master Class with FSPA Ballet Conservatory Director Cheryl Madeux. Madeux received her training at the Nutmeg Conservatory For The Arts and has enjoyed a long professional career, dancing with such venerable companies as the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and as principal dancer with the Hartford Ballet. She is a summer faculty member for the ABT® Young Dancers Program in NY and an examiner for the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
The week continued with a Theater Dance Master Class with NYC actor, director, and choreographer Chaz Wolcott. Wolcott is known for his roles in the touring companies of Newsies and CATS as well as his stint on So You Think You Can Dance. He led the virtual class in a warmup and then taught his own choreography to “Dancin’ In the Street.”
FSPA April Break finished on Friday with a live Q&A with Broadway’s Christopher Rice discussing Swings, Understudies, and Standbys. Rice informed the attendees on the different kinds of “coverage” roles that exist within the cast of a show and answered questions on how an actor prepares for that challenge.
The students at FSPA have long benefited from the school’s Broadway connection, as the school consistently brings in guest teachers from New York. Tony Award winner Beth Leavel comments, “I wish I had a Franklin School for the Performing Arts in my life when I was growing up. It’s invaluable.” FSPA students have even gone on to perform on the Great White Way themselves, noting the school as a major part of their success. Dan Gleason (‘06) of the Broadway cast of WICKED says, “I owe a lot of my consistent vocal health and technique to my years at FSPA. Healthy singing habits were ingrained in my body and it has become second nature.”