During this holiday season- many will seek that perfect gift wrapped with a golden bow and topped with mistletoe-
But the best gifts do not have to be tangible material items, for truly the best bestowals are those that come from the heart!
I was just presented with such a beautiful offering, for it truly was “A Gift to Remember”.
My “Spirit of Christmas” present? The provider- the lovely and so enchanting Johanna Morrison, who for the past 19 years, and until most recently had been a holiday mainstay in “The Hartford Stages” seasonal production of “Dickens A Christmas Carol” and her absolutely stellar and so memorable portrayal of the ghost of Christmas Past and doll vender Bettye Pidgeon,
My gift- as stated, provided by the ever gracious “Auntie Jo” – a special visit to “The Hartt School’s Dance and Theatre campus, specifically the Handel Performing Arts Centre- Malcolm Morrison Theater Wing, home to the most talented dance and theater students I’ve have ever seen. For the past several years, so many of Johanna’s students had indelibly described to me her voice class, that I had to see it for myself – this wonderful educator and mentor doing what she does so well- teaching young folks their craft.
The invite included the opportunity to observe 25 of Johanna’s accents and dialect students, all in their sophomore year, and now culminating in two of the accents they have been working on in the form of a “scene to song” of their own choice. Throughout the semester her students have learned British, Cockney, Irish, Russian, and Italian accents. During the 1 hour and 20 minute class, students in pairs and trios, presented “Broadway” quality scene to song presentations, voiced in standard British and cockney to such musicals including “Mary Poppins”, “Jane Eyre” “Sweeney Todd” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”.
Folks, after witnessing this outstanding teacher and her students- well let me tell you, I came down with a terrible case of the “kvells” – ( bursting with pride ), a tear actually rolled down my cheek – absolutely inspiring work taking place here. Outstanding voices, dancing and their accents – BRILLIANT!!!! These young folks, our next generation of amazing talent, be it theater, music or dance, I am so happy to have had the opportunity to meet them as they each prepare for their journey to stardom! They each get a coveted “Howard Noticed You” award!!
Lastly, my dear friend Johanna Morrison, I cannot thank you enough for this amazing gift that I will always remember and cherish. Yes a wish made – but so much more received. I thank you from my “heart” for your kindness, your generosity and of course your friendship. May we all have someone like Johanna Morrison in our lives to share the true meaning of the holiday season with. And now simply- may I wish you all a Merry Yuletide and a Happy Turning of the Calendar.