Goshen College’s music and theater programs have long been part of the school, but now a new minor will combine them both. The musical theater minor, introduced to the campus this year, will give students the opportunity to participate in musical theater more than ever before.
“This was a missing piece to the already very strong theater and music departments,” said Tom Myers, new dance instructor in the theater department. “By including this minor, Goshen College becomes even stronger in attracting students into their music and theater programs, as this will…help them prepare for a career in performing or teaching in schools.”
Tom, who should not be confused with Tom Meyers, the director of international education, said he has loved theater for as long as he can remember. His comprehensive theater experience spans over forty years and includes acting, choreography, directing productions and teaching. Today, he teaches GC’s first-ever dance class downtown at the Goshen Theater on Monday evenings.
At the moment, it’s uncertain how many students are interested in the minor, but when November rolls around and the first-year students have declared their courses of study, the number will become clearer.
Kailey Rice, a first-year who plans to declare a musical theater minor and an American Sign Language major, already has a goal for her professional future.
“My dream is to act in a production for Deaf West Theater in California,” Rice said. “It is a deaf and hearing integrated theater company. My credentials from a musical theater minor would help with this.”
According to the musical theater minor page on the GC website, students can take dance, voice, and acting classes to hone their craft. Opportunities to participate in musicals and operas will be available one semester every year. This year’s musical will be “The Pirates of Penzance,” which premieres on March 16 and will run through March 25.
Musical theater, as many actors and technicians will note, provides a multitude of crazy experiences that are difficult to come by anywhere else. Lauren Myers, a sophomore who has officially declared her musical theater minor, knows this all too well.
“In a rehearsal for my senior year spring musical, the director hit her head on a set piece, got a concussion, and spent the next 18 months recovering,” said Lauren. “Since she was out of the picture for the weeks leading up to the show, many of the upperclassmen had to step up their game to put the finishing touches on blocking, fix costuming problems, and solve prop issues like, ‘Help, I’ve dropped my gun into the barricade and now someone has to fish it out with a coat hanger on a stick.’”
However, things worked out in the end.
“We realized just how many people it takes to do the work of one incredibly experienced and dedicated director,” she said.
Tom also has had his share of bizarre theater incidents, but an occurrence from the Elkhart Civic Theatre’s production of the musical “Hello, Dolly!” in 1996 was particularly memorable.
“Our actor playing Barnaby was in a car accident on his way to [the] final dress rehearsal that we always held in front of a full audience,” he said. The director, another actor, and Tom “jumped into [the scenes] and one would leave the stage and another one would come in…The audience was quite confused by the end of the show!”
Despite the laundry list of mishaps that can happen during a performance, dedicated musical thespians are passionate about what they do.
“Musical theater has…brought me some of my best friendships and taught me valuable life lessons,” Lauren said. “Because of my involvement in musical theater, I felt like I had a place in high school and it helped me to be more confident in class presentations and social interactions.”
Rice feels the same way.
“Musical theater has affected my life by giving me something to look forward to…[It gives] me a ‘high’ that nothing else can give me,” said Rice. “There is nothing like getting to the end of a huge musical number and sitting in your final pose and hearing the audience’s roaring applause.”