Six music theater students are taking a trip to China in October.
Three faculty members will accompany the student vocalists: Dr. David Herendeen, director of opera and music theater, Dean Mark Parker and Music Director Corie Melaugh.
The group goes to China on Oct. 12.
The students are invited to perform a revue to help celebrate Pearl River’s 10th anniversary in Tianjin, China.
Herendeen said many Chinese people enjoy American music theater and have a great market growing for it there.
“I picked these students because they’re particularly nimble,” Herendeen said. “They adapt to everything with a great deal of panache and humor, and they’re extraordinary in their abilities. Think of them as a musical SWAT team.”
The students going are: Stephanie Feeback, Thomas Harton, Liza Clark, Walker Degerness, Alexandra Hebert, music theater seniors, and Morgan Haney, music theater junior.
The revue is a 70-minute performance of American musical theater selections called Heart to Heart, with no intermission. They also will join Chinese students in their production of Mamma Mia.
Some students already went on a trip to China in May, where they performed a show similar to the one planned for October.
“Going the first time, we didn’t know what to expect, but it was really fun because we got to interact with the students more than we thought,” Degerness said. “Doing that was great, because we realized they have the same desires that we do, and they were just so excited. We were like rock stars to them.”
Herendeen said people and their children even came up to take pictures with them because they’d never seen an American before.
Harton said he especially enjoyed the audience.
“It was interesting because I’ve never seen an audience so excited about musical theater,” he said. “It reminded me why I love to do it. They even came up to us and asked for autographs, and were just a wonderful audience.”
The audience was moved to tears even though they didn’t understand what was being said or sung, Degerness said.
“It’s cool to get to do this with a group of friends that I love so much,” Clark said. “We aren’t going to get to do all the shows from the revue together at OCU, or maybe ever in our lives, but now I get the chance to do these shows and sing this music with these specific people.”
Shows such as Oklahoma!, Beauty and the Beast, and West Side Story are featured in Heart to Heart.
“Students are really getting to experience the universality of what they do,” Herendeen said.
“It has no borders. It’s a distinctly different culture, yet it has the same universal qualities of love, friendship, and sadness, and all the things every culture’s stories are based on that we’ve depicted and transcended.”