Imagine being a college athlete and having the chance to practice with a professional. It could be any of the big names: Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant or Lionel Messi. That’s the kind of opportunity Southwestern College Theatre Department students recently had when Broadway star Tony Vincent visited Mayan Hall Theatre.
Vincent appeared on campus Feb. 21 to host a master class on auditioning and performing. Later that evening he conducted a rehearsal with the cast of the college’s upcoming production of Green Day’s “American Idiot.” Vincent is an original cast member of the Broadway run of the show. He has also starred on NBC’s “The Voice,” is a music producer, and has performed in various other Broadway productions.
After a brief introduction, he invited volunteers from the crowd to “audition” for him. After each audition, he provided useful critiques and improvements for each performer.
The students were absolutely inspired by Vincent’s testimony and advice.
“He’s been in our shoes,” said Kevin Phan, one of the show’s cast members. “He’s been a beginner and worked his way up, so he’s someone we can look up to and let us know it’s possible for us to get there.”
Jake Strohl, another “American Idiot” cast member, said Vincent boosted his confidence.
“He reinforced my ability to perform,” Strohl said. “Sometimes I get little bouts of doubt, but when I get to work with people like Tony Vincent, I know this is what I’m good at and this is what I want to do.”
The show’s assistant director Bianca Jennings also weighed in.
“It was really informative,” Jennings said. “It helped me understand the actor’s perspective. You’re getting it from the source, from someone who was actually on Broadway and can tell us what it’s like.”
Professor Ruff Yeager pointed out the value of having a guest instructor, and the event’s effect on the school.
“Familiarity breeds contempt,” he said. “Having someone else come in can help say the same thing in a different way. I’m also pleased that we can continue building culture on campus and in the community, and I’m excited to continue doing so through the show.”
Professor Yeager went to great lengths to make this event possible. He first reached out to Vincent’s wife Aspen, who is also a performer, to host the class. She declined, but the arrangements were made for Tony to come instead. The Associated Student Organization and theatre department provided the $4,700 to fund Vincent’s trip.
Tickets for “American Idiot” can be purchased at the door at Mayan Hall Theatre for $15 general admission and $10 for students/seniors/military. The show will open Tues. March 13 and run through March 17 with shows at 7:30 p.m. and on March 18 at 2 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.swccd.edu/americanidiot.