Of Dreams and Destinies
“SMILE“- I have most recently been to the University of Hartford – The Hartt School, to take in their latest production of “Smile”.
“Smile” is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1986 and closed after only 48 performances. The musical is based loosely on the 1975 comedy film of the same title, from a screenplay by Jerry Belson and chronicles the backstage troubles of the fictional 1985 California Young American Miss beauty pageant held in Santa Rosa, California.
Please note that I was not here to review but as a guest of Alan Rust, Theater Division Director. I freely admit that during this mostly all-grad student musical production, I not only smiled, but laughed and cried, and at one point I got so teary-eyed I had to remove my glasses to wipe away now steam tinged bifocals – but mostly I was just plain proud!
Proud of what you ask-? Two criteria- 1. The amazing range of talented young people who are ready to take the world of entertainment by storm and, 2. The work that is being done by the Hartt School Theater Division- faculty and staff. I didn’t really know what to expect when I initially stood in line waiting to get into the 120 seat Roberts Theater on the Hartt School campus in Hartford, but a few of the
student’s parents quickly took me in as one of the “Smile” family. They filled me in on their children’s hopes and dreams, their various roles in the “Smile” production, their children’s love for the Theater Division, upcoming job prospects, showed me photos of their kids and family and later, even where to sit once inside the theater- wow!!! The “Smile” production? – I thought I was actually on Broadway- excellent, with memorable performances throughout. These young performers hopefully will remember and cherish these days and how proud their parents and an anonymous theater reviewer are of their accomplishments.
No- I do not have any affiliation with the school, I only know a few members of staff besides Mr. Rust, including Robert Davis who teaches Acting, Voice and Speech and Johanna Morrison who also teaches Voice and Speech, but I was truly overwhelmed by the range of talent that was present, be it acting, singing, choreographed dancing, recitals, instruments, and numerous other performing arts. Hopefully I will be asked to return to the Hartt School to see future performances.
So where can you next see these talented young people? – well you are in luck- many of these Hartt School graduates will be participating in the Goodspeed Opera House’s 10th annual Festival of New Musicals taking place from January 16th to the 18th. The Festival is a unique collaboration between emerging writers and students from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and The Boston Conservatory. Three teams of writers and composers, joined by senior students from the schools, continue the development of new musicals through staged readings that are performed to the public on the Opera House stage. In addition to the book-in-hand readings, festival-goers are treated to a Symposium, break-out sessions, cabarets, and a Meet-the-Writers session. For info or to purchase tickets to the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals please call The Goodspeed at 860.873.8668. I look forward to seeing these amazing, talented young men and women at the upcoming Goodspeed’s Festival – please join me in watching how their adventure of dreams and destinies unfolds.,,,,