HIGH POINT, N.C., March 27, 2014 – High Point University students took the stage alongside a Broadway legend on March 25 where, together, they sang the famous tune “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.” Even if you don’t know Broadway, most are familiar with the popular tune featured in the musical “Annie.”
The man behind that and many other classic musical numbers such as “Bye Bye Birdie” is Charles Strouse, Tony Award-winning composer. Strouse visited the HPU campus to share his rare expertise through master classes with students and a finale Showcase, where both he and students performed his work in the Hayworth Fine Arts Theatre on campus.
It was an experience that is not only rare, but extremely beneficial for students studying music and theatre, says Scott MacLeod, assistant professor of music who helped coordinate the event.
“Charles Strouse has touched the life of almost every American in the last half century, and it was a tremendous opportunity for the HPU campus and our community,” MacLeod says.
Students like Chaz Duffy, senior theatre major, had the unique opportunity to perform many of Strouse’s works during the event for the man himself, along with his wife, Barbara Simon.
Duffy found working with Strouse and his wife a humbling, affirming and fulfilling experience.
“To have the chance to work with Broadway professionals of their legendary caliber has truly been an honor and a wonderful opportunity for each of us here at HPU,” Duffy says. “To work intimately with the mind that brought us such distinctly influential pieces of American theatre has been a true joy, and a personally affirming experience in my own artistic career. Performing this beautiful and touching music to the composer himself, and seeing Charles smile back at me from ear to ear is an experience I will cherish forever.”
Ryan Dillon, a senior, says meeting Strouse was unlike anything he expected, and in fact, the experience has inspired him to pursue musical theatre after college.
“When I first met Charles, I was so nervous and almost unable to talk to him; I knew I was in the presence of a Broadway legend,” Dillon says. “I’ve performed his music all of my life, but to be in the presence of the man who made such iconic numbers was nothing short of amazing. He is full of both experience and joy for music. When we talked, it felt as though we were old friends picking up the end of a conversation we had before. This was the chance of a lifetime, and the chance to perform and talk to him was incredible.”