The New York Times, Theater Review: “A Family’s Songs of Love and Loss, ‘Myths and Hymns,’ Directed by Elizabeth Lucas”

Performing Arts students Donell James Foreman ’12, Matthew Farcher ’12 (pictured), Pace alumna Ally Bonino ’11 and Performing Arts Assistant Professor Robert Meffe are getting major accolades for their work in “Myths and Hymns.”

Chief Theater Writer Charles Isherwood’s review of “Myths and Hymns” appeared on the front page of The New York Times “TheArts” section on February 9 and included accolades for several members of the Pace Performing Arts community – Donell James Foreman (BFA ’12), Matthew Farcher (BFA ’12), Pace alumna Ally Bonino (BFA ’11) and Performing Arts Assistant Professor Robert Meffe.
 
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ISHERWOOD’S THEATER REVIEW:
 
As the original title indicates, it’s a musically eclectic collection of songs that alternates between adaptations of 19th-century hymns and classic myths with contemporary lyrics supplied (mostly) by Mr. Guettel (best known for his Broadway musical “The Light in the Piazza”). Ms. Lucas has shown judicious taste in supplying only minimal dialogue for the new version: the songs remain the focus of the show, expertly performed by a five-member band in spare orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin and Robert Meffe and sung with bright fervor by a six talented singers.
 
Over a simple, lilting music-box melody Ms. Larsen laments the disappearance of yet another lover. (They are all played by the fine tenor Matthew Farcher – pictured)
 
Myths and Hymns

Music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, with new narrative by Elizabeth Lucas; directed by Ms. Lucas; choreography by Wendy Seyb; music supervisor, Robert Meffe; sets by Ann Bartek; costumes by Emily Morgan DeAngelis; lighting by Herrick Goldman; sound by Janie Bullard; musical director, Katya Stanislavskaya; stage manager, Kristine Ayers. Presented by Prospect Theater Company, Cara Reichel, producing artistic director; Melissa Huber, managing director. At the West End Theater, Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street, Manhattan; (212) 352-3101; prospecttheater.org. Through Feb. 26. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.

WITH: Linda Balgord (Woman), Ally Bonino (Trickster), Matthew Farcher (Lover), Donell James Foreman (Shapeshifter), Anika Larsen (Daughter), Lucas Steele (Son) and Bob Stillman (Husband).

BroadwayWorld.com: “Photo Flash – Pace New Musicals Presents Zoe Sarnak’s A LASTING IMPRESSION”

The Pace New Musicals Program was developed in 2007 to nurture the creation of new musical theater in New York City, while at the same time providing an invaluable educational opportunity for students to work directly with top professionals in the field. Perhaps most importantly, the program allows students to experiment with new, untested works without precedent-setting productions, a rare opportunity in theater education.

In “A Lasting Impression,” each of the three lead characters chose their own artistic medium – book, music or visual design – to express one shared story, reports BroadwayWorld.com

Josh Weinstein, a once guarded journalist, acts as the play’s narrator, using old taped interviews and pictures to guide us through his memory of his two sisters. Kali Blanche, a manic musician, is the piece’s composer, moving in and out of “her” band as the story unfolds. Simone Blanche, a young painter, controls the evolution of what begins as a blank set, and comes to life through the addition of her visual art.

“A Lasting Impression” is about impressions that we make through love, on those close to us, and through art, on those we may never meet.

The eight Pace Musical Theater students who will be bringing “A Lasting Impression” to life without costumes or scenery are (in alphabetical order, with hometown and their character roles):

Aaron Albert (Los Angeles, CA) as Josh Weinstein
Bethany Jeffery (Cincinnati, OH) as Mother
Taylor Noble (Glastonbury, CT) as Kali Blanche
Danny Quadrino (East Rockaway, NY) as Josh Understudy
Krista Pioppi (Succasunna, NY) as Kali’s Band
Cailan Rose (Sarasota, FL) as Simone Blanche
Kevin Shotwell (Wilmington, DE) as Franklin
Emily Thomas (Pittsburgh, PA) as Kali’s Band

The actors will be supported by Alex James (Schwenksville, PA) as Stage Manager and Dylan Bustamante (Babylon, NY) as Assistant Director.

 

NEWS RELEASE: Pace New Musicals Announce Premiere of its 2012 Official Selection, Zoe Sarnkak’s “A Lasting Impression” on January 18

Pace New Musicals has selected Zoe Sarnak’s “A Lasting Impression” – a tangled story of three artists: a composer, a writer, and a painter – as its 2012 official selection. There will be seven staged reading performances with a live band beginning January 18 at Pace’s Schaeberle Studio Theater, 41 Park Row, 10th Floor. For reservations call (212) 346-1352 or email performingarts@pace.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Samuella Becker, Pace Media Relations, sbecker2@pace.edu; 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172; Robert Meffe, Music Director, rmeffe@pace.edu, 917-297-3897

Pace New Musicals Announces Premiere of its 2012 Official Selection,

Zoe Sarnak’s A Lasting Impression, at

Pace University’s Schaeberle Theater on January 18 – 22

 Staged Reading Performances with Live Band

 Directed by Amy Rogers; Music Direction by Robert Meffe

NEW YORK, NY, January 13, 2012 – Pace University’s Pace New Musicals program, dedicated to the discovery of new theater works, has selected Zoe Sarnak’s A Lasting Impression from over 50 submissions as its 2012 most promising show.

Amy Rogers, Associate Professor of Musical Theater and creator of the BFA Musical Degree program at the Dyson College of Arts & Science at Pace University, and Robert Meffe, Musical Director, are collaborating with Sarnak on a staged reading of her musical.

A Lasting Impression will be presented at Pace’s Schaeberle Studio, 41 Park Row, 10th Floor, Pace NYC Campus  from January 18-22;  performances Wednesday-Friday at 8:00PM; Saturday at 2:00 & 8:00PM and Sunday at 8:00PM.  Ticket prices: $5 for students; $10 for adults.  For reservations call (212) 346-1352 or email performingarts@pace.edu

In A Lasting Impression, each of the three lead characters chose their own artistic medium – book, music or visual design – to express one shared story. Josh, a once guarded journalist, acts as the play’s narrator, using old taped interviews and pictures to guide us through his memory of his two sisters. Kali, a manic musician, is the piece’s composer, moving in and out of “her” band as the story unfolds. Simone, a young painter, controls the evolution of what begins as a blank set, and comes to life through the addition of her visual art. A Lasting Impression is about impressions that we make through love, on those close to us, and through art, on those we may never meet.

The eight Pace Musical Theater students who will be bringing A Lasting Impression to life without costumes or scenery are (in alphabetical order, with hometown and their character roles):

  • Aaron Albert (Los Angeles, CA) as Josh Weinstein
  • Bethany Jeffery (Cincinnati, OH) as Mother
  • Taylor Noble (Glastonbury, CT) as Kali Blanche
  • Danny Quadrino (East Rockaway, NY) as Josh Understudy
  • Krista Pioppi  (Succasunna, NY) as Kali’s Band
  • Cailan Rose (Sarasota, FL) as Simone Blanche
  • Kevin Shotwell (Wilmington, DE) as Franklin
  • Emily Thomas (Pittsburgh, PA) as Kali’s Band

The actors will be supported by Alex James (Schwenksville, PA) as Stage Manager and Dylan Bustamante (Babylon, NY) as Assistant Director.

The Pace New Musicals Program was developed in 2007 to nurture the creation of new musical theater in New York City, while at the same time providing an invaluable educational opportunity for students to work directly with top professionals in the field. Perhaps most importantly, the program allows students to experiment with new, untested works without precedent-setting productions, a rare opportunity in theater education.

The BFA Musical Theater Program at Pace University began with six majors in 2002, and has grown to more than 90 majors. In 2006, Pace became only the second school in New York City to offer a BFA in Musical Theater.

Past works in the Pace New Musicals Program include staged workshops of Factory Girls by Creighton Irons, Sean Mahoney, and Maggie-Kate Coleman; Quanah by Larry Gatlin, Anthony Dodge, Marcia Milgrom Dodge; Darling by Ryan Scott Oliver and B.T. Ryback’s; Luck!, by Mark Waldrop and Brad Ross; and College: The Musical, which was later selected for a production with the New York Musical Theatre Festival where the authors, Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, won the NYMF award for Excellence In Writing (Lyrics).

ZOE SARNAK (Writer) is a composer, lyricist, and playwright. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University where her first show, The Quad, was produced in 2009. In addition to numerous concert/cabaret features and performances with her band, TheWD, Sarnak has written two new musicals including A Lasting Impression, and Mixtape, which will be featured in Silent Street Productions 2011/2012 season.

AMY ROGERS (Director) is a tenured Associate Professor of Musical Theater at Pace University where she created the BFA Musical Theatre degree program.  Originally from Canada, Amy received her degree in musical theatre from Arizona State University, and her MFA from San Diego State University.  NYC directing credits include: Carousel, College: The Musical, Ragtime, The Wild Party (Lippa), Little Women and Violet. Amy has assisted director Lonny Price on Can-Can and Kismet at Encores at City Center, Candide with the New York Philharmonic and the Emmy Award winning Passion for Live at Lincoln Center.

ROBERT MEFFE (Music Director) is a professional music director, pianist, orchestrator, and vocal coach. On Broadway he was the Associate Conductor of Little Women as well as Les Miserables for the last six years of its run. Off-Broadway: Violet, The Prince and the Pauper, and Gutenberg! The Musical!. He was the Music Director for the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera and has played keyboards for Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Avenue Q, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Grey Gardens, and Bombay Dreams.  Meffe is the Director of Music for the Musical Theater Program at Pace University.

About Dyson College of Arts and Science’s Performing Arts Programs at Pace University:

Undergraduate: Dyson’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) offers Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees in Acting and in Musical Theater and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts with specialized focuses in Acting, Directing, Commercial Dance or Design/Technical Theater. On average, there are 1,000 applicants for every 100 new openings each year. PAD presents over 50 performances every year. Performance spaces range from the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Schaeberle (black box) Theater, and Studio 501, home to many student-directed productions. http://www.pace.edu/dyson/academic-departments-and-programs/performing-arts

Graduate: The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, also located in Dyson College, is the only MFA (Acting, Directing and Playwriting) theatre program officially sanctioned by the legendary Actors Studio (co-presidents Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino). All MFA students participate in the Craft Seminars known to the world as the Bravo Network television series Inside the Actors Studio (taped at Pace’s Schimmel Theater and open to students), hosted by James Lipton, Dean Emeritus and Co-Founder of the Actors Studio Drama School. www.Pace.edu/ASDS

About Pace University: For 105 years, Pace University has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

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BroadwayWorld.com: “Pace University Announces Open Submissions for ‘Pace New Musicals'”

Got script and musical score? Pace New Musicals will provide the space, the performers, a stage manager, a light board and light operator, and a director and music director.

“Our objective is to nurture the creation of new musical theater in New York City and to provide an invaluable educational opportunity to our students to work directly with top professionals in the field,” said Amy Rogers, the founder and director of Pace’s Musical Theater Program.

Pace’s  Musical Theater Program is currently accepting submissions of new musical theater works, reports BroadwayWorld.com  

Deadline: October 7, 2011.

The chosen piece will be given a full reading in the Schaeberle Theater at Pace University in lower Manhattan, with actors chosen from the musical theater student body. There will be a two-week rehearsal period starting Tuesday, January 3, 2012, with seven performances starting January 18 and ending January 22, 2012.

Because of the short rehearsal time, completed scores and scripts are requested. Pace New Musicals will provide the space, the performers, a stage manager, a light board and light operator, and a director and music director.  If there is already a director and/or music director attached to the project and wants to continue that association, then it is up to the creators whether or not to use them for this reading.

For submission details, click here

PREVIOUS PRODUCTIONS: 

  •  2011 – Factory Girls written by Creighton Irons, Sean Mahoney and Maggie-Kate Coleman about the young women in the textile mills of Massachusetts. 
  • 2010 – Quanah, the musical journey of Comanche chief Quanah Parker and his mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped as a girl and raised by the Comanches as one of their own.  Music, story and lyrics by legendary country music star Larry Gatlin, book by Anthony Dodge, and dramaturgy by Ragtime director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
  • 2009 – Jonathan Larson award winner Ryan Scott Oliver’s and B.T. Ryback’s Darling, is a  musical which follows upper crust teenager Ursula Morgan in 1929 Boston as society boils in the weeks before the Crash.
  • 2008 – College: The Musical, a tuneful and honest look at modern campus life, written by two recent Princeton graduates.  It was subsequently chosen for production with the New York Musical Theatre Festival where the authors, Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, won the NYMF award for Excellence in Writing Lyrics. 
  • 2007 – A staged workshop of Mark Waldrop and Brad Ross’ musical, Luck!  In this fractured folk tale based on a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mazel and Shlimazel, the spirits of Good Luck and Bad Luck, make a bet to determine who is the more powerful.

The Christian Science Monitor: “Tony Awards 2011: It’s a boy’s life?”

Male-focused and male-written shows dominate this year’s Tony nominations. Most went to Americans who have won before, changing trends that rewarded Brits and newcomers.

But despite the glaring deficit of women, particularly in the writing category, the Tony nominations reveal heartening trends, especially in the musical theater realm, says Robert Meffe, director of the BFA musical theater program at Pace University.

For one, they’ve gone native.

In the musical categories, especially for best musical, Professor Meffe sees a new and exciting trend in that the four new musicals were written by established American musical theater composers. Each of these composers has won Tony Awards for their previous shows, he said.

“This was commonplace in the 1950’s and 1960’s during the age of Rodgers & Hammerstein, but it has mostly been supplanted in the 1980’s by British productions (like the Andrew Lloyd Webber behemoths) and then more recently, by composers taking their first crack at Broadway shows,” he says, pointing to “In the Heights,” and “Avenue Q.” He notes that while the favored winner (“The Book of Mormon”) is partially written by the South Park crew of TV fame, Robert “Bobby” Lopez, composer of “Avenue Q,” is their third co-writer. The very short list of revivals – only two, this year – is a sharp departure from the conventional wisdom that audiences only support what they know, notes Meffe.

Musical theater will always have to argue for its relevance, Robert Meffe says in an article in The Christian Science Monitor, but Fox’s “Glee” and Disney’s “High School Musical” have brought a new high point of popularity. The audience for musical theater is younger than it has been in decades, he adds, and the box office bears that out: gross revenues have broken records in most of the previous eight seasons.

Furthermore, musical theater college programs have witnessed a sharp increase in demand and enrollment in over the past few years, he says.

“This spring at Pace we auditioned over 300 people for the 25 open slots in our class of 2015,” says Meffe, director of Pace’s BFA musical theater program. “This is in a program that started out eight years ago with six students.”

The Broadsheet Daily: “Pace Spins A Yarn about ‘Factory Girls’ – Fact-Based Rock Musical Recalls Labor Pains of 1840s”

At the dawn of America’s Industrial Revolution, young women known as “Mill Girls” flocked to Lowell, MA, from farms throughout New England, hoping to make a better life for themselves. What they found instead were 14-hour workdays, packed dormitories, and puritanical overseers who monitored their behavior around the clock.

“Factory Girls” will be performed Jan 26-30, 2011 at Pace’s Schaeberle Studio (41 Park Row; tenth floor) Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 pm, with weekend matinees on Saturday (2:00 pm) and Sunday (3:00 pm). Tickets: $12 for adults and $8 for students. To make reservations, e-mail pacenewmusicals@gmail.com

Pace University is staging a dramatic reading and sing-through this weekend of a new rock musical, “Factory Girls,” that recalls the history-making activism of young working women in the 1840s, who brought some of America’s first labor reforms to the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts… The result is dialog and song that are powerfully evocative of many of the same conflicts that still divide America today: social justice, financial inequality, and double-edged sword by which individuals working for a giant, impersonal corporation can feel both empowered and imprisoned.

BroadwayWorld.com – “Pace University Presents FACTORY GIRLS Musical, 1/26-1/30”

Taking place in the 1840s, “Factory Girls” tells the story of Yankee farm girls who come to Lowell, Massachusetts, “the City of Spindles,” in order make a better life for themselves.

After laboring for up to 14 hours a day, the girls write and publish their own company-sponsored publication, “The Lowell Offering,” which becomes a worldwide literary phenomenon. When working conditions deteriorate due to competitor and economic hardship, the women speak out against the corporation. Through their hardship, the course of both workers and women is forever altered: both have found a voice in America.

At the dawn of the American Industrial Revolution, girls working in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, become America’s first independent working women.

Inspired by the revolutionary spirit of her forefathers, a weaver secretly rallies her co-workers to speak up against the frightful working conditions, fight for labor reform and petition for a 10-hour workday.

The new musical Factory Girls will be presented as a part of Pace University’s New Musicals Program beginning January 26th through the 30th.