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Donna McKechnie’s
MUSICAL THEATRE PERFORMANCE CLASS

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Performance Notes

This class addresses the personal and unique expression of the individual in the solo performance of a song through a series of acting based exercises for relaxation, sense memory, emotional recall and breathing, thus enabling the student to give every song a personal point of view, to more fully engage an audience and to have a clearer understanding of the process.

The objective is to help the student integrate, through this organic approach, his or her physical and emotional life, and therefore enhancing the vocal production and interpretation.

 

The group dynamic plays a very important part in this class. Students are able to witness the transformative and successful result of the soloist when he or she has made an emotional connection, shown more clarity of choice and impulse, and vocal improvement.

The inhibitions that stop or hurt an artist’s efforts to communicate and commit fully are dealt with through comprehensive instruction on how to make specific choices in order to find the freedom to feel and be spontaneous in performance.

The class usually is 3 hours with a short break at the half-way mark. Each student is given about 20 minutes of work on the song in front of the group. Of course, not all of the students will be able to share for 20 minutes, so I usually have a Hit Parade for the last 30 minutes in which each song is sung as a performance, one right after the other, by as many remaining students as possible, giving them a chance to apply this new information.

 

This class technique is based on my own dramatic training with Uta Hagen, Warren Robertson, Larry Moss, and the Actor’s Studio.

 

My vocal training with Maurice Jampol, Paul Gavert, Marge Rivingston and Judith Farris has given me an important and fundamental comprehension of voice production.

 

In 1979 Herbert Bergof gave me the first opportunity to teach at his HB Studio in New York City. It was then and there that I was able to learn how to be a “guide” through the inspiration of my students. They clearly showed me the way. And they still do. I am now on the faculty there and look forward to teaching a course whenever I am able.

 

I have had wonderful opportunities, while performing all over the country, to teach Master Classes in many colleges and Performing Arts Schools, including, Pepperdine University, University of Michigan, Cincinnati Conservatory, Boston University, Harvard, Interlochen, New York University and to the Annual Conventions for Musical Theatre Students in Tampa, Florida and Houston, Texas.

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