Musical Theater students share stage with Broadway legend Faith Prince
Tony Award-winner and Broadway legend Faith Prince will perform at the Elizabeth E. Baker Theater in Kantner Hall on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. The performance, “Broadway Bound with Faith Prince,” will consist of BFA Musical Theater seniors performing songs they spent the week workshopping with Prince, in addition to a 45-minute set where Prince will perform an array of songs from her past roles, a little bit of jazz and a few surprise songs.
“Students will do contrasting songs in there, so you’ll get to see a couple of sides of each of them,” Prince said. “And then you have the old broad still telling stories so that people have a sense of it really [being] possible to get out there and make it happen.”
"This is a very different kind of event from what we typically offer here," Brent Frederick, assistant professor of instruction in Musical Theater and music director of the Musical Theater program, said
Frederick believes that Ohio University’s distance from major cities makes events like these exciting, especially for a young Musical Theater degree program.
“This is a big thing for us…to start bringing in artists of [Prince’s] caliber. You can’t really move into this industry without understanding the shoulders of the people that you’re standing on,” Frederick said.
The evening will also feature faculty members, like Frederick on the accompanying piano, and give them a chance to showcase their talents in a way that isn’t typically offered to them. In Prince’s words, “we’re just gonna have a party.”
Bringing Prince to Ohio University was a team effort, supported by staff and faculty from across the College of Fine Arts. The night is promised to bring laughter and lessons to any audience member, theater enthusiast or not.
“She’s a great fit for what we’re trying to do, but also knowing that she has this broad base of knowledge, she just has different wells she can draw on that provide different things for every student,” Frederick added. “She’s a storyteller and she’s humorous, so I think people should come expecting to learn a lot and just have a great time interacting in a very fourth wall broken way.”
The night will be especially engaging for those involved in the theatrical arts.
“She’s inherently funny without trying to be funny, but she can play deadly serious and she can play mournful and she can play just the entire range of the emotional spectrum. I always teach that you have to carry a show, and she is somebody who carries a show,” Frederick said.
He praises Prince’s aptitude for educating and talent for character building. Her style of teaching and professional history makes her a perfect fit for Ohio University’s mission of providing experiential learning and individualistic teachings.
Melissa Brobeck, voice faculty in the School of Music, and coach for musical theater students, was the main connection in the process of bringing Prince to Athens, and the discussion of how the two met is the first example of Prince’s knowledge.
“Melissa…was my student at the St. Louis Cabaret Conference and…I really thought she was special,” Prince said.
The relationship between Brobeck and Prince proves that receiving feedback is not a negative thing, but rather an example of someone noticing greatness and being willing to work toward emphasizing it.
ROAD TO BROADWAY
Prince remembers the stage being a very natural place for her, even from a young age. She gives some credit to her parents, claiming to be a merge between her mothers singing voice and her fathers “spark plug” wit. Throughout high school, Prince worked her way up in her theater program, and then enrolled in the University of Cincinnati for her BFA.
Once she arrived in New York City post-graduation, Prince worked for 10 years in regional theater and summer stock before booking her first Broadway show, “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” Since then, she has performed in 13 Broadway shows - an example of how her insatiable appetite for performance drove her to greatness.
In the course of a 30 minute conversation, Prince offered several insights on how to succeed.
“[Be] a really good contributor and prepare for a role, but [be] open to how they’re writing [the role] and how the musical is changing,” she says. She preaches not being too competitive, but rather being a positive presence in a room. Positivity was also essential for her when considering her odds of success. She says that while she was constantly working, she focused on honing her technique and figuring out her plan rather than listening to the statistics that doomed her for failure.
Prince also has an insane passion for teaching.
“Storytelling [is] the space you carve out, the movie in your head, the specificity of the scene, the temperature, the day of the month, the month of the year…there’s so many things that can wash over you when you're starting to storytelling, and the more you immerse yourself, the more it transcends —and people can see that wash over you.”
Prince wishes she had spent more time in her early years trying to create things for herself rather than looking for someone to create something in her. “
I probably knew a lot more than I thought I did…I kept looking for somebody to sort of make me and mold me. I think what I try to impart is you can always do more for yourself than you think you can, and usually you know better than anybody else. That’s not to say somebody can’t see anything new in you, but just trust yourself more and trust the signs,” she encourages.