UT musical theatre students perform medley of songs


Amy Zhang

The cast of Showcase 2014 practices for their upcoming performances Sunday afternoon at the Winship drama building. The seven theater and dance students will perform a medley of songs from upcoming musicals today and tomorrow at 6:30 in Winship Studio.

Musical theatre sophomore Devin Medley said that, even though musical theatre may be a difficult lifestyle choice, there’s something truly fulfilling about being in front of an audience that really wants to receive the performance positively and take in all of the performer’s work.

Medley is one of seven musical theatre students who will be staging “Showcase 2014” on Thursday and Friday at the Winship Drama Building on campus as part of their degree requirements. These students are all pursuing theatre and dance degrees.

In previous years, the department of theatre and dance has staged “Curtain Up!,” an annual showcase of all the work done by the theatre and dance students. This year, for the first time, “Showcase 2014” is being staged by only musical theatre students who have to enroll for a mandatory
musical theatre ensemble class.

“Showcase 2014 is about what we stand for and the journey we’re taking in our life now,” musical theatre freshman Lilly Stafford said. “The department decided to create a showcase that really represents us as a whole. It’s a production that speaks to our lives right now.”

Stafford appeared in ensemble roles in the Butler Opera Center’s staging of “Sweeney Todd” and the theatre and dance department’s musical “In the Heights” earlier this semester.

A 45-minute production, “Showcase 2014” is a medley of 10-15 songs from such upcoming musicals as “Princesses” by Tony winner David Zippel and such new productions as the Tony-nominated Broadway production “Beautiful,” which is based on the life of Carole King, a Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter.

Stafford said she and the other six musical theatre students have been working on their performances nearly all year, and “Showcase 2014” is actually a culmination of everything that they’ve done and learned to date.

The show begins with the song “Magic To Do” from multiple Tony-winning musical “Pippin” and also includes songs from UT’s upcoming fall 2014 production of “Fame — The Musical.” 

Medley said she is most excited about her solo “In Short” from the musical “Edges.” The song takes the audience into the life of a young girl who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is not dealing with her situation very well. 

“I enjoy comedy,” Medley said. “Comedy is really tragedy that’s happening to yourself, and living in that and making it acceptable for people to laugh at is what you have to really focus on as an artist.”

Later in the week, Medley performs in UT student-directed play “Impact,” which runs Sunday through Tuesday. Musical theatre student Quinton Johnson stars alongside Medley in the play about five high school students who deal with conflict when something in their lives goes awry.

“I always encompass the character as well as I can,” Medley said. “I strive to put forth work that serves the playwright’s intentions. As an actor, you have to make sure that you are making the right acting choices.” 

Medley, who also recently worked in “Sweeney Todd,” hopes to audition for “Fame — The Musical” in the fall and star in many more UT productions.

Musical theatre sophomore and “Showcase 2014” performer Mandy Foster also plans to audition for “Fame — The Musical.” Foster joins Stafford and Medley in singing the song “What A Drag” from the musical “Princesses,” which will be performed during the Texas Musical Theatre Workshop, which will take place on campus in June.

“I have grown as an actress, in just understanding how to put real and honest material on stage,” Foster said. “This has translated to my singing. It’s more interesting when you are telling a story through the song rather than just singing the song as it is.”

Medley said she enjoyed performing this trio with Foster and Stafford because the three of them share the same sense of humor. Unlike Foster, who may go to film school in L.A., Medley dreams of starring in a Broadway musical some day.

“It’s the feel of the stage and the feel of accomplishing something you are so passionate about that inspires me to pursue musical theatre,” Medley said. “You bring a story to life, you entertain people, and you give them lessons to learn from.”