Following a two-week residency which offered visitors to the Borland Project Space a behind-the scenes look at the process of theatrical and musical preparation, the winners of Sing Out!, a performance-based competition created by the Schools of Music and Theatre, have been announced.
The competition closed with the final round on Nov. 1, during which Annie Burridge, general director of Austin Opera and School of Music 2018 Alumni Award Recipient, served as guest adjudicator to help select the winners along with Susan Schulman, award-winning Broadway director and School of Theatre faculty member.
The two winners of the competition and recipients of Sing Out! scholarships are Sadie Spivey who received first prize and the Steve Roland Prize, named after the late Broadway actor, and Julio Iguina-Pasqual who was awarded second prize.
Becca Suskauer received honorable mention for Musical Theatre and Staci Dickens received honorable mention for Opera.
Sing Out! asked Penn State students to imagine a program of three contrasting selections: one from opera, one from musical theatre and one of the singer’s choice with value being placed on students stretching themselves vocally, dramatically and musically. Each piece was staged to fully embody the character and to express the lyric.
After advancing through a preliminary round held at the end of October, the finalists received in-depth acting coaching from School of Theatre faculty member Steve Snyder.
Norman Spivey, School of Music faculty member and contest organizer said the idea for the competition responds to the professional landscape by asking singers to bring material from contrasting genres. The concept is inspired by the growing successes of crossover artists like Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran Kelli O’Hara, who has also been featured in roles at the Metropolitan Opera.
“As the concept of the competition was taking shape, it was clear that our students were already working on this sort of material and it made good sense to shine a light on their great work,” Spivey said. “I pitched the idea to my colleagues and was delighted that they were so supportive of the idea.”
The talent pool was deep, considering the infancy of the competition, which Spivey said was encouraging for the future of Sing Out!.
“It was a very strong event and it was particularly great to see the growth all of the students showed from the preliminary auditions to the finals,” Spivey said. “The ways in which they stretched themselves artistically showed wonderful vulnerability.”
Planning for Sing Out! 2019 is underway and more information will be released in the spring.