Musical Theatre Nerd Alert!

“Hey, nerds!”  You might want to get accustomed to hearing that, because it is the standard greeting for the MFAs.  Also, we are ramping up a huge project that will put that moniker all over the internet, which, as you know, makes a thing permanent–and true.  When I say “huge project,” I should explain.  Our professor Rob wrote a component into this semester’s History of Musical Theatre class that involves creating and posting some of our findings on the internet.  Basically, we want to share the riches of the SDSU Musical Theatre Archive with “all y’all.”  (N.B.-50% of the MFA class and 33% of my roommates are from the South, and it is apparently rubbing off on me.)

So, the MFA’s, being A+ students…went a little A+ on this project.  Not satisfied with some chintzy iPhone video, we created a new series called “MUSICAL THEATRE NERD ALERT.”  We are all pretty excited.  Not only do we get to share a little of our passion for musical theatre, but also we are able to show our old friends just how crazy our new friends are.  We crammed this series full of MFA-isms, jokes, and–oh, yes–facts, too.  It also demonstrates something I love about our class:  we do everything full out.

Start the series here.

Something’s Coming: Part 7

This ends–for a little while–the story of the journey towards choosing SDSU.  A year ago last week, I was auditioning in San Diego, and a year ago this week, I was being offered a position in the 2016 MFA class.  Wild, right?   So, here are a few final journal entries that retell a small part of my process.  Sharing it has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past year, consider how I make decisions, and revel in those who have helped me along the way.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, if someone out there in cyberspace is also considering a big change, hopefully reading about my journey has showed him or her that he or she is not alone.  

March 2014--The SDSU campus on a cloudy spring audition day.  Little did I know I'd be there every day one year later.

March 2014–The SDSU campus on a cloudy spring audition day. Little did I know I’d be there every day one year later.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wow.  Having a little freakout.  No, not freakout…just struck with reality that all of this might actually happen.  Lots of thoughts, no order.  Here goes:

I kicked off the singing/acting auditions today at SDSU.  I nailed it.  Was ready.  In the zone.  Felt amazing.

The people have been really nice so far.

Saw Pal Joey last night.  Impressed with some individual performers, but all together not a whiz-bang show.

Still amazed at all of the vegetation that in Illinois would be considered “houseplants” and here is just plunked in the ground.

Strolling the campus:  gorgeous.

They are dedicating a new student union this week–which is where I’m writing–which is also gorgeous.  Everything is buzzing.  It feels good.

This is a bigger school than I imagined.  This is way bigger than Lawrence.

People actually ride skateboards here.  Like to go places!

How am I going to pay for this?

As much as I have been dreading the question “What do I do if I don’t get in to this school?” for some reason the prospect of uprooting and moving to San Diego for two years suddenly feels scary as well  I would probably be skeptical if it didn’t  give me butterflies, though.

If there’s times, Jared is going to take me to their new house in Escondido.  I think I still want to live with them.  I wonder if they feel the same.  It is a stressful time for them right now, too.

I should learn Spanish if I come here.  That would be fun.

As I’m walking around, I am wishing loved ones were here so I could show this to them.  I think that is a good sign.

And here are a few excerpts from writing on the plane home the following day:

Yesterday’s audition was exceptional.  The whole day simply felt good.  After my individual audition and my own stroll around the campus, I returned to the Musical Theatre Archive for the “group interview.”  This was a time for all of the candidates to sit and hear a little more about the program.  Everything they related resonated with me.  Paula Kalustian–the MFA director–has had a long career as both artist and educator and she–like me–said that they have always grown together.  She’s not been able to let one or the other go, and so the program is also geared towards that.

The individual interviews came after that, and once again, I started.  It was at this meeting that I was able to convey how much it seemed like the philosophy of the program gelled with my own.  Paula expressed the same.  She asked about my professional goals.  I said I wanted to “kick it up a notch.”  We talked St. Louis theatre; she had done some work at Webster.  She asked about my dream roles and about my type.  I said that as I’m about to turn 34, I would like to play Bobby in Company.  She said she has directed it four times, looked straight at me, and nodded, “Yeah.”

In summary, I felt a real click with these people.  I think this could really happen.  And…I should know in a week.  How crazy is that?!

I feel a sense of peace in that it is now out of my hands.  I have done everything I can.  Now we wait.

On March 7, 2014, I was auditioning for the  MFA Musical Theatre program at SDSU.  On March 7, 2015, I was receiving the President's Award for the Arts at the Student Research Symposium.

On March 7, 2014, I was auditioning for the MFA Musical Theatre program at SDSU. On March 7, 2015, I was receiving the President’s Award for the Arts at the Student Research Symposium.

Something’s Coming: Part 5

In honor of Valentine’s Day–or for those who choose not to recognize the day, you may simply call it ‘Brad’s Birthday’–this post is all about following your heart.  The past few weeks, I’ve been taking readers on my own personal journey to get into grad school.  Loads of people go to grad school; when it comes down to it, going to grad school is not exactly remarkable.  But the decision to dislodge myself from what was my current reality represented the significant shift.  This journal entry from last January illustrates the parallel journey I was sharing with a character I was playing at the time who also struggles knowing what he wants.

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A very “meta” moment of being in a Starbucks studying lines for ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ and looking up to see your poster for ‘The Little Dog Laughed.’

Jan. 25, 2014

I need to run to the grocery store and milk shop.  I need to tidy the house, throw in a load of laundry, and do the dishes.  I need to study my script for Little Dog this afternoon.  But I really needed to sit down and write.

This has been a very trying week.  It seems like things are swirling towards a culmination.  Stress is coming from many directions.  For all of the debate and personal soul-searching that went into accepting the role of Mitchel Green, none of that feels like an issue now.  I do feel pressure about getting off book.  Though I have been working consistently, Mitchell never seems to put together a complete thought and–in the second act–hardly a complete sentence.  What I wouldn’t give for both a subject and a predicate.

No, what my real–what I have been pondering from this show–what keeps my mind spinning in the hours after rehearsal is “what I want.”  (Good God, I’m starting to write how Mitchell speaks).  I found great blessing in the trio of shows that have run during this process of applying to grad schools, as I’ve discerned what the next chapter of my life would look like.  From Parade, I reaffirmed that this life is hard work.  It takes discipline, routine, and effort.  From Drowsy Chaperone, I felt the gravity–the responsibility–of storytellers.  I found meaning in the work by the joy I shared, and in turn, I took joy in it.  With Little Dog, even though I’m still in the process and don’t have the perspective from it all being behind me, I believe the takeaway will be quite different.  Whereas the story was paramount in the case of Parade and Drowsy, I feel like I am truly sitting with the character of Mitchell and trying to work through his issues right alongside mine.  Mitchell can’t muster the courage to say what he wants.  We see a glimmer of that at the end of Act I when he actually verbalizes that to Alex, but right away in Act II he has somehow lost that ability.  I am afraid of that same fate.

Though I have been moving spheres on the grad school front and only a select few actually know, it has been a move towards identifying something I want.  What I fear is that if nothing comes of this effort, will I still have the courage to say what I want?  My “Plan B” is simply the status quo.  But I am beginning to wonder whether the status quo is no longer what I want.  In short, I don’t know–it’s hard for me–I’m not sure what I want.

Thanks a lot, Mitch.

It doesn’t make you a weakling or a failure or a disappointment to listen to your heart.

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This was tough.

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