TWU Cabaret Class Prepares Students for the Stage and Beyond

It's 7 p.m. Midday classes at Texas Women's University have long since made way for evening study sessions and trips off campus. The April sun has just finished setting, and a blue light washes over TWU's beautiful landscape. For many students, the day is nearly done; but for a select few, rehearsal is just beginning. Tuesday was their first tech rehearsal, complete with an orchestral pit of volunteer musicians, and suddenly, their impending performance felt real.

LeeAnn Ducker performs her rendition of "Changing My Major" from  Fun Home   .

LeeAnn Ducker performs her rendition of "Changing My Major" from Fun Home.

10 students are enrolled in the Spring 2018 Cabaret course, and throughout the semester they've been honing their skills: memorizing, choreographing and singing ballads of love and passion. The materials were self-chosen by the performers, who then congregated to choose a common theme; this year's theme? "Love & Passion in Its Many Forms." With selections from Hairspray, The Color Purple, (and many more) the topics range from the deepest familial love, to a Peeping Tom listening to his neighbor through their shared apartment walls. It should be duly noted that this show is not for tykes; the directors have opted to let their young adult performers express themselves to the fullest extent, even if it means uttering the words "goat fucker" at some point in the night.

Director Steven Young, associate professor at TWU, believes that any student who wishes to pursue theater needs to have a strong background in music theater. "It's becoming essential for actors to be able to carry a tune," Young says. As the course is geared towards music ed and theatre ed majors, both he and musical director Dr. Kelley Poche-Rodriguez hope to give their students a competitive edge once they enter the field of education themselves. "At some point they will be asked to direct a musical," Poche-Rodriguez insists, saying that for her music education majors, the skills learned in cabaret class are indispensable. All of the songs in the program have been arranged for small string ensemble by Dr. Porche-Rodriguez herself, who is a theory professor at TWU. 

The course is only a small part of the Music Theatre Certificate, a unique program that sets TWU apart from other schools in the North Texas area. SMU currently only has a minor in Musical Theatre; TCU, Baylor, UTA & UTD offer similar majors and minors, and Denton's own UNT has no current program or certification for those pursuing musical theatre. So for these theatre junkies, Pioneers, and Owls, the class is a welcome opportunity to prepare them for the industry beyond campus boundaries, whether it be spent in the classroom or on the stage - or perhaps both.

"Love and Passion In Its Many Forms" will be playing April 27th & 28th at 8pm in TWU's Redbud Theater Compex, room 204. It is free and open to the public - so if you find yourself in town for Arts & Jazz, or just looking for some fantastic, passionate theatre, find yourself at the Cabaret.

Header image: Sophomore Alandra Baptiste, sophomore theatre major, performs "I Know Where I've Been" from Hairspray, accompanied by a her classmates