A Moment in the Spotlight
JMU students perform with Visiting Artist Patti LuPone
By Courtney Herb (’15)
JMU students get to perform with Tony Award winner Patti LuPone.
Many performers live the Shakespearean phrase that “all the world’s a stage.” For students in JMU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, JMU provides a stage full of legendary opportunity.
In Fall 2013, the Forbes Center had the honor of presenting Broadway superstar Patti LuPone. LuPone performed her new show “COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA … played that role,” in the Forbes Center Concert Hall on Sept. 28.
Through an arrangement with the Forbes Center, JMU’s Symphony Orchestra and eight musical theatre students accompanied LuPone during her onstage performance. Prior to her concert, these students participated in a dress rehearsal with the Tony Award winner, where they interacted and performed with the singer/actress in an up-close-and-personal setting.
“The most memorable moment for me came during the dress rehearsal when Miss LuPone was singing "Sleepy Man" from The Robber Bridegroom, and she stopped the entire number to ask us if we could learn back up vocals to accompany her,” said senior musical theatre major Katie Bianchi, a participant in LuPone’s class and performance. “She explained to us how much the musical meant to her, and there at the piano we all shared a moment of purely enjoying the music.”
She heard us play [and] told us it was so beautiful she wanted to cry...To have someone as talented and accomplished as Patti LuPone say that at this stage in our careers ...makes us feel like everything we've been taught and worked toward is really beginning to pay off.
Members of the Symphony Orchestra were also able to share in the experience, playing for LuPone both before and during her performance. Junior music industry major England McDaniels, a violinist in the symphony, recalled the feeling of sharing his music with such a legend. “The very first time she heard us play, she told us it was so beautiful she wanted to cry,” revealed McDaniels of his favorite moment of the experience. “To have someone as talented and accomplished as Patti LuPone say something like that at this stage in our careers is unbelievable. It really makes us feel like everything we've been taught and worked towards is really beginning to pay off.”
In addition to performance opportunities, Lupone’s visit also provided music, theatre and dance students with the change to ask questions during a Q&A session hosted by the actress.
Students felt the opportunity was another invaluable part of a one-of-a-kind education. “Knowing that I attend a school that cares so much about my education and overall experience means the world to me,” said Bianchi. “I will remember it for the rest of my life, and it is even more meaningful that it happened at the school I already love so much.”