Prospective students join musical cast
February 8, 2018
The stage smells of fresh sawdust and wet paint. Dust mites are seen in the bright stage lights, masking the audience and turning the rest of the auditorium into an endless expanse of black. The only thing that lets anyone know there is anyone seated in the audience is the den of people talking and laughing as they wait for rehearsal to start. The baby grand piano sits down stage left, cast in dark shadows by a set that looms over it, and when the clock strikes 6:30 p.m., it’s time to go. They gather around the piano and warm-up their voices, starting with altos, then sopranos, tenors, baritones and basses.
Finally, rehearsal begins, and home-school senior Steven Kintner takes the stage.
The musical production chosen this year allowed some of the interested high school students to “stake a claim” in becoming theater stars against the traditional norms. In this show, there is a non-MSU student in the cast. Both students applied to MSU, and Kintner has been accepted and will begin classes in the fall, while Carl Marshall waits for his acceptance.
Every four or five years the theater department puts on a musical performance, and this year the faculty and students chose “Urinetown: The Musical,” a comedy filled with satire, irony and themes mocking bureaucracy, capitalism and politics.
There are obstacles and hindrances that the cast and crew have to overcome. Early in the rehearsal process, one of these specific obstacles were the scheduling conflicts caused by work and school that had three members of the college cast drop out of the production.
Kintner joined the cast on the second day of rehearsals, as Tiny Tom, part of the rebellion in “Urinetown,” that plots to overthrow the Urine Good Company, which controls the fees required to use public amenities.
“Tiny Tom is a character that is of a younger state of mind, maybe not like a child, but definitely not mature,” Kintner said. “I try to get into the mindset that all of this conflict is new to me, and that I don’t have any experience with violence.”
Kintner spent hours rehearsing and analyzing his character to understand what makes Tiny Tom tick.
“He’s a representation of a change of heart at the beginning of the show. He is very cowardly and unwilling, but by the end stands up to his fears and marches with the rebellion,” Kintner said.
Kintner started theater in 2013 with “Beauty and the Beast” at the Wichita Theatre. His music background comes from voice lessons with Judy Diltz, who told him about the musical in the first place.
“A lot more is expected of you here; you have to hold your own. Nobody’s going to hold your hand,” he said, in comparing local theater and professional theater. “It gives me a lot more freedom to perform and make the character my own.”
Christie Maturo, the director for “Urinetown,” said Kintner’s audition impressed her. He referenced Shakespeare’s character, “Dogberry” from “Much Ado About Nothing,” when reading for a main role.
“He’s joined the cast like he’s been here all along,” Maturo said.
It wasn’t just the director of “Urinetown” that Kintner stuck out to. With Kintner’s background in music, it was no surprise that his audition would catch the ear of Dale Heidebrecht, assistant music professor and music director of “Urinetown.”
“Before I even met him, I viewed him in a positive light because of his recommendations from Judy Diltz, but then his audition was spectacular. He’s a performer and a terrific singer,” Heidebrecht said. “He’s a charismatic and outgoing young man which is just what we need for this production.”
While singing and performing seem to be Kintner’s sweet spot, Heidebrecht was honest in commenting about some of the aspects of “Urinetown,” specifically he has been working on what might be different from other productions.
Heidebrecht said, “With this show I think his biggest obstacle might be his lack of experience in dance. Others who have been here longer just have a lot more to draw on. There is a ton of dance in this show.”
Finally, Heidebrecht said out of everything that Kintner has and will learn from being in the production of “Urinetown” as young talent, the paramount lesson is the importance of getting comfortable with working with others on a personal level.
“A large part of what he’s learning here is just how collaborative arts are. And I mean all the arts. Being a home-schooled young man, this will make him be in contact with different people all the time,” he said.
Kintner, like all students, can use their experiences in college to learn this lesson as well.
Heidebrecht said, “All arts, whether it be music or art or drama or theater or mass communication, involve interaction with others. And whether you are a vocal performance major or a vocal education major, you have to collaborate with others. As a teacher I have to collaborate with students, and as a performer you have to collaborate with your accompanists, or the other members of the cast, or even the audience, so that will be the most beneficial thing he will experience in this production and will help him out for years to come in his future.”
Video by Jacob Smith
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