From Scene into Song (Spring 2018)


Class Meeting Times: Katzen 154, Friday, 2:30–5:20pm • Instructor: Nathan Beary Blustein | nblustein@american.edu •  Syllabus: html | pdf • Office Hours: Sign up • Scene and Song Choices: View here •  Musicals in the DC Area: Spring 2018

On this page: Act OneAct TwoFinale

Music deadlines: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 6, Week 9

Overture

Week 1: January 19
Welcome; syllabus; expectations; introductions
Perform: Two contrasting “wheelhouse” songs (no more than 3 minutes)

Week 2: January 26
**Golden Age Scene and Standard solo music to accompanist**
AMT, chapters 18 (“Auditioning”) and 19 (“A Winning Attitude”), pp. 350–74.

Reading response: Single-spaced. Minimum: one-half page; maximum: one page.
By the day each reading is due, you should prepare roughly five substantive observations or discussion questions/responses for each reading or viewing. Engage in dialogue with these sources. Challenge them and your own thoughts and preconceptions.

Perform: Another try at a wheelhouse song

Character analysis: Single-spaced. No longer than one page.
Submit a brief scene analysis including the following information:
•  Musical title and character name (if appropriate);
•  Scene objective;
•  Obstacles (internal and external);
•  Range of tactics (actions or beats in verb form, clearly marked on an attached libretto);
•  Moment before (where, what, why, etc.);
•  Expectations at beginning of scene/song;
•  Relationship to partner (and how it changes);
•  Stakes; and
•  Subtext.
Your objective and your actively expressed tactics/verbs should be directed at your scene partner or the imaginary person to whom you are singing.

You should also briefly discuss the practical choices (intellectual, vocal, physical, psychological, etc) you are making to enhance the effectiveness of your analysis. What conscious, deliberate things are you doing to maximize the dramatic potential of the scene? Make your choices very personal, and articulate these choices emotionally, rather than academically or dispassionately. Keep this analysis in the first person.

Act One (Back to Top)

Week 3: February 2
**Second Standard (cut) music to accompanist**
AMT, chapter 17 (“Do You Have the Stuff?”), pp. 303–49.
Due: Guided Journal #1

Double-spaced. Minimum: 2 pages; maximum: 3 pages.
1. What are you hoping to get out of this course? What do you feel this class should focus on? What do you want to work on? What are your biggest fears or concerns relating to this class? Are there any thoughts, questions, or concerns that you would like Nathan to know about, or that you would like to discuss?
2. Describe your experiences with performing the songs on the first two days of class. What did you do well (at least three things)? What would you do differently if you had your life to live over? Any surprises or discoveries?
3. Honestly evaluate what you would bring to a potential career in musical theatre. Based on the “Do You Have the Stuff?” reading, attempt to evaluate your Talent, Charisma, and especially your Castability and Type, as well as Skills and Know-How.

Standard Solo: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Golden Age Scene: 5/6
OFF: 9, 10, 11

Week 4: February 9
**Contemporary (non-pop/rock) music to accompanist**
AMT, Section I (“Fundamentals of Acting in Musical Theatre: Acting Basics – the Foundations; Acting Basics – Step by Step; Making it Matter”), pp. 5–44.
Due: H.M.S. Pianfore vocal response (AU Streaming Video)

Single-spaced. Minimum: 400 words; maximum: 500 words.
These short responses are not formal papers, but they should do more than simply demonstrate that you’ve seen the assigned works. They should indicate that you are thinking about these performances independently, analyzing them, interpreting them, and drawing on your knowledge about musical performance from this class. Focus primarily and specifically on what makes the individual performances emotionally compelling (or ineffective).

You might address some of the following questions: What are the vocal requirements for this work? What is the most emotionally effective song? What song tries for emotional significance and fails (Be very specific about why)? Is vocal beauty ever sacrificed for dramatic power, and if so, is it appropriate? Are the vocal choices made appropriate to the character? What balance do performers find between singing as an integrated part of dramatic expression and singing as pure entertainment? Please don’t answer all these questions, unless you feel it helpful or necessary to your response. Analyze and demystify the magic (or horror) of the performance by describing it and analyzing its effectiveness in detail.

Standard Solo: 5, 6, 9, 10, 11
Second Standard (cut): 1, 2

Cuts should comprise musically and dramatically logical excerpts. For each selection, prepare a 16-bar and a 32-bar cut.

Golden Age Scene: 3/4
OFF: 7, 8

Week 5: February 16
AMT, Chapter 4 (“Musical Analysis – Listening for Clues”), pp. 45–65.
Due: Kiss Me, Kate vocal response (Katzen Library DVD – 147 minutes)
Second Standard (cut): 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Golden Age Scene: 1/2
OFF: 5, 6

Week 6: February 23
**Contemporary Scene and Golden-Age Solo music to accompanist**
AMT, Chapter 5 (“Working with Words”), pp. 66–84.
Due: Assassins performance response
Second Standard (cut): 5, 6
Contemporary (non-pop/rock) Solo: 1, 2, 9, 10
Golden Age Scene: 7/8, 11/KP
OFF: 3, 4

Week 7: March 2
AMT, Chapter 6 (“Elements of Storytelling”), pp. 85–109.
Due: Passion vocal response (Katzen Library DVD – 115 minutes)
Contemporary (non-pop/rock) Solo: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11
Golden Age Scene: 9/10
OFF: 1, 2

Week 8: March 9
AMT, Chapter 7 (“Character Analysis”), pp. 110–132.
Perform: Golden Age Scene and Standard or Contemporary (non-pop/rock) Solo

Intermission

March 16 Spring Break!

Act Two (Back to Top)—THIS SCHEDULE WILL BE ADJUSTED BY WEEK 4

Week 9: March 23
**Pop/Rock (cut) and “Scary” Solo music to accompanist**
Due: Guided Journal #2

900–1200 words (3–4 pages, double-spaced Times New Roman 12 and 1″ margins). Please submit by email or hard copy. You may answer number-by-number or in more flowing prose.

1. Briefly describe your process in working on the Golden Age scene and the Standard solo.
2. How do you feel each piece changed over the two classes?
3. What feedback did you receive? Was it helpful? How did it impact your performances?
4. What did you do well (preparation, attitude, performance, etc.)? At least three things for each piece.
5. Were there any surprises or discoveries (pleasant or unpleasant)?
6. What were the biggest challenges you faced with each piece? Discuss these struggles.
7. If you could do the process over, what would you do differently?
8. How well did you collaborate with your assigned scene partner? What would you do differently about this collaborative process?
9. What do you intend to change as you prepare to work on your Contemporary scene and Golden-Age solo?

Golden Age Solo: 2, 3, 4, 8, 11
Contemporary Scene: 1 & 6, 5 & KP
OFF: 7, 9, 10

Week 10: March 30
AMT, Chapter 8 (“The Journey Begins”), pp. 133–155.
Due: Putting it Together vocal response (Katzen Library DVD – 96 minutes)
Golden Age Solo: 1, 7, 9, 10
Pop/Rock Cut: 2, 4, 11
Contemporary Scene: 3 & 8
OFF: 5, 6

Week 11: April 6
AMT, Chapters 9 (“Working with Relationships”) and 10 (“Intensifiers”), pp. 156–180.
Due: Jesus Christ Superstar Live! vocal response (YouTube – 87 minutes)
Golden Age Solo: 5, 6
Pop/Rock Cut: 1, 3, 7, 8, 9
Contemporary Scene: 2 & 10
OFF: 4, 11

Week 12: April 13
AMT, Chapter 11 (“Discovering Your Phrasing”), pp. 181–195.
Due: Elaine Stritch at Liberty vocal response (Katzen Library DVD – 146 minutes)
Pop/Rock Cut: 5, 6, 10
“Scary” Solo: 2, 7, 8, 9
Contemporary Scene: 4 & 11
OFF: 1, 3

Week 13: April 20
AMT, Chapter 12 (“Staging Your Song”), pp. 196–219.
“Scary” Solo: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11
Contemporary Scene: 7 & 9
OFF: 2, 8

Week 14: April 27
Deadline: Outside production performance response

Perform: Contemporary Scene and Golden Age or “Scary” Solo

Finale/Bows/Exit Music (Back to Top)

May 4 Due: Guided Journal #3
Perform: Standard, Golden Age, Contemporary (non-pop/rock), “Scary” Solos (choose 3 of 4)
Combined total time not to exceed eight minutes
Submit updated character analyses for each solo to reflect performance choices