Late Nights, Big Lights, Broadway Bound

Hannah Howard, Reporter

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Musical Theater University (MTU) is a free pre-professional performing arts academy available to students across the Coachella Valley, grades 8-12. Started in Orange County by David Green in 1999, the program is promoted as a “nurturing” and “intensive” environment for young people who are looking ahead to a future in the musical theater industry. With limited spaces available, and only the best accepted to participate, how does veteran MTU member and senior at RMHS, Maglia Sabio, view the program after five years?
According to the performer herself, she loves it, crediting the program with helping her make lifelong friendships and gain valuable skills to take with her in life and on the stage. “MTU is a family of like-minded people doing their best to improve in their performance skills,” she says. “It’s a lot of stress sometimes, but the final performances and people make it bearable and really fun. The beginning, especially, was very hard for me. I was in eighth grade and everyone was older, so it was scary at first. But the people were so nice, and so it got better pretty quickly.” And it truly is stressful. Members practice singing, dancing, and acting for eight or more hours throughout the week, and this time is increased when a show is on the horizon. Between this busy rehearsal schedule and normal classes, it’s a lot to handle at times, but Sabio says hopefuls should remind themselves why they joined in the first place, and look to their friends for support in the classroom, and out of it.
Maglia’s favorite performances over the years have included her first play, Little Shop of Horrors, and her latest play, Dogfight, in which she plays a toothless prostitute, Marcy. “It’s been really cool to play her and develop her character because she’s so important to the plot, and so affected by everything going on.” Rigorous practices and multiple performances such as these have taught her to deal with high amounts of pressure, and Maglia says it has made looming college auditions just a bit less nerve-wracking. “Without MTU, finding material, knowing what lyrics mean, and how to present myself to the admissions people would be so much harder. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t in it.” As is the case for almost all musical theater students, Maglia hopes to be on Broadway one day. One of her biggest dreams is to perform a part in the 1951 classic, The King And I, and Amelie, a more modern musical based on the 2001 film.
Sabio says students wanting to audition shouldn’t be intimidated, no matter their grade level. A love of musical theater and a desire for growth is all you need. Well…and one monologue no longer than 1 ½ minutes and one vocal selection of approximately 32 bars. “Don’t be intimidated. Come prepared. David Green, the director, is a very nice, dedicated, professional man who wants what’s best for his students.” Interested students can visit the MTU’s website to fill out an application and schedule an audition.

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Late Nights, Big Lights, Broadway Bound