Parade was a dream show for me, being a big fan of Jason Robert Brown and being very passionate about sharing Jewish stories on stage.
I came to the world of opera, and NUOVA Vocal Arts, in an unusual way. As an aspiring musical theatre artist who wanted to stay in my hometown of Winnipeg for my undergraduate studies, I was presented with a choice. Music or theatre. There were no university musical theatre programs. I found myself at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba, suddenly immersed in the world of classical voice. I had sung art songs in voice lessons while in high school, but was focussed on musical theatre and contemporary commercial music.
During my time at the U of M, I came to appreciate and eventually love art music and opera, while pursuing my theatre career outside of school. In my final year of undergrad, it was announced that NUOVA Vocal Arts would be doing Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s Parade that summer. Many of my friends had been to NUOVA and had said it was an amazing experience, and Parade was a dream show for me, being a big fan of Jason Robert Brown and being very passionate about sharing Jewish stories on stage. Auditioning was a no-brainer.
The artists I met during my time in Edmonton inspired me to be a better artist myself, and the community we formed made me feel connected to the Canadian vocal arts community on a more national scale.
I was absolutely over the moon when I found out that I would get to join the intensive that summer and play Leo Frank in Parade. My summer at NUOVA was an incredibly valuable experience and one I still think back to often. I still have, and occasionally listen back to, audio recordings from my voice lessons and masterclasses, as well as my notebook which I used for table work on Parade with Kim and Brent Carver (the late Canadian theatre legend and original Leo on Broadway).
The intensive challenged me as an artist, stretching me both technically and creatively, while providing me with the support I needed to grow. On top of the training, it was invigorating to be working with singers and faculty from across Canada. The artists I met during my time in Edmonton inspired me to be a better artist myself, and the community we formed made me feel connected to the Canadian vocal arts community on a more national scale. Though we are spread out, I still try to catch up with NUOVA faculty and alumni as I travel.
My summer at NUOVA is a part of what inspired me to move to the US to pursue my M.F.A. in Musical Theatre. I attended the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and then moved to New York City after graduation. After years of it being nothing but a pipe dream, I was suddenly auditioning and in callbacks for musicals on Broadway.
It brought me a sense of purpose and healing that was so sorely needed at the time. This is just another example of the way Kim supports alumni over time.
Then the pandemic hit. I was suddenly back in Winnipeg with the industry shuttered. Then, NUOVA saved the day again. When they announced they would be doing a Coast to Coast Rumbold Virtual Recital Series, I wrote to Kim about presenting a musical theatre cabaret program with fellow alum and collaborative pianist Indra Egan. Kim agreed, and we shot our concert in Winnipeg. This project was the first time in months I felt I was able to stretch my artistic muscles and perform repertoire I loved with someone I love for an institution I love. It brought me a sense of purpose and healing that was so sorely needed at the time. This is just another example of the way Kim supports alumni over time.
I recently wrote to Kim, as I am currently on tour with the Bartlett Sher-helmed revival of Fiddler on the Roof and we are playing Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium in January. While I may not be an Albertan, it feels like a homecoming to me to be back in Canada and back in a city where I had such a formative experience with NUOVA. Parade was one of the first times I was able to play a Jew on stage and set me on a journey of discovery, reclamation and pride in my heritage. It feels bashert (think ‘kismet’, but Yiddish) that I should be returning with such a Jewish musical (if not the Jewish musical).
…how lucky I feel to have had those six weeks of training and to be a part of the vast community of Canadian singers who I get to call my fellow alumni.
This impending trip to Edmonton, along with the recent New York revival of Parade, has had me reflecting on my time at NUOVA and how lucky I feel to have had those six weeks of training and to be a part of the vast community of Canadian singers who I get to call my fellow alumni. I have gotten to watch with so much pride as so many of my colleagues have achieved major milestones as they progress in their careers. There is something very special going on in Edmonton every summer. Thank you, NUOVA Vocal Arts!