The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly meeting Tuesday, June 26, at the Neuharth Center on the USD campus. President-elect David Hussey called the meeting to order. Rev. Robert Grossmann gave the invocation. Group singing, introduction of guests, and announcements, followed this.
Rotarian Dan Guyette introduced Bruce Earnest, the director of Musical Theater at USD, as the featured speaker. His topic was "What's Happening in Musical Theater at USD."
He began by saying that Americans have not only adopted forms of music and theater from other parts of the world, but have developed musical theater as a fusion of European music concepts as well as other musical forms such as jazz, folk, and opera.
The purpose of the Department is not only to educate students but also to develop projects to serve South Dakota and create a regional and national presence in the musical theater arena.
We have at USD a world-class faculty and student body, which allows for many possibilities in the future.
One of the tasks has been to promote the department and the university. The number of majors in musical theater has gone from four to 17 students in the last year. There is a great need for more performance opportunities.
The department is starting an internship program and exploring opportunities for other internships to network students throughout the U.S. and in other countries. They are working on setting up internships in Germany starting in 2008.
They are also setting up the possibility of outside artists coming to perform and give master classes.
The best recruiting is by word of mouth through students telling other students. There is nothing like it in the state so it's getting a lot of attention. Another important task is developing a donor base to augment operating budgets and scholarships. The department has set a goal of a total of 64 students in the program.
Bruce said that the USD Playhouse fits in well with these goals. They are currently doing a musical titled My Way which is a tribute to Frank Sinatra. This production is going on tour to Sioux Falls and Madison.
He introduced two students: Lindsey Straw, a musical theater major from Omaha, NE, and Christ Larson, a music education major from Holstein, IA. They performed Funny Valentine and I Love Paris from the musical.
In response to a question, Mr. Earnest said there are plans to do many other productions including Broadway style shows which could tour the state. He also said funds and relationships need to be developed to allow this to happen.