By Angelena Lufrano
The San Diego State University Musical Theatre MFA program is one of only three in the nation, and the only program to incorporate both performance and scholarship. Students often join the program at the height of their performing career, leaving regional theatres, national or international tours, and Broadway performances behind to earn a terminal degree. The two-year program prepares them for careers as performers, directors, choreographers, and educators.
The new cohort (Class of 2020), is drawn from a record number of applicants for the program, according to Robert Meffe, head of the MFA Musical Theatre Program. “This particular class was definitely more competitive than any other in the past,” said Meffe. “There has been not only an increase in quantity of applications but also quality.”
Tristan “Trist” Fishman
Trist is originally from Boise, Idaho and is a recent graduate of Boise State University. He was introduced to musical theatre at the age of seven and hasn’t looked back since. “It’s what I love and it’s what the world needs today,” said Trist. “I can’t imagine life without the magic of musicals.” Some of his work includes the role of Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, Officer Lockstock in Urinetown and understudying for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Shayne worked in various regional theatres around the country before relocating to San Diego. Here, he returned to Moonlight Stage Productions for his third summer as Bunsen in Newsies. With a deep desire to perform and create, Shayne is most fulfilled when mentoring others. Some of his favorite roles include Professor Bhaer in Little Women, Jay Yates in Titanic, and Artie Green in Sunset Boulevard.
Devon is a California-native, trained from childhood as a classical pianist. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in music, as well as completed the prerequisites to go to medical school. After two years in medical school, he decided to put that on hold to pursue a master’s degree in piano performance. While in that program, he became assistant director of a high school theatre program and fell in love with theatre education. After he obtains his Musical Theatre MFA from SDSU, he hopes to become a theatre professor and continue working with high school students.
Lauren has a wide array of experience on and off Broadway, with roles in Wicked, Fools in Love, Damn Yankees and Beauty and the Beast, just to name a few. She directed and produced concerts for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS across the country. She taught master classes in musical theatre programs at the University of Michigan, Baldwin Wallace, and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. When she’s not performing, she regularly directs, choreographs, and teaches at Northwestern University in Illinois. She also holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.
Richard discovered musical theatre in secondary school at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in stage management from Webster University in Saint Louis, Missouri and spent his early career stage managing around the country. In 2008, he became a music director in youth theatre, later evolving into a full-time voice teacher and music director. He hopes to use this opportunity at SDSU to challenge himself as an educator and a professional, empowering the next generation of storytellers.
Eden is a Calgary-based musical theatre and contemporary dance choreographer, teacher and performer. She is the co-founder and resident choreographer of EDJE Dance Theatre. For the past three years, she ran StoryBook Theatre’s Theatre School and taught movement at the post secondary level. Some of her roles include Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, Heather Chandler in Heathers: The Musical and Babbette in Beauty and the Beast.
New Musical Theatre Initiative
This year marks the introduction of the New Musical Initiative to the SDSU MFA Musical Theatre program. The New Musical Initiative will help writers develop new work by allowing them to hear and revise their work over the course of two years. In addition, both the Musical Theatre MFA students, and the SDSU Design and Technology MFA students will experience first-hand all that goes into creating a new musical, allowing them to immediately apply theories they learn in the classroom. The piece chosen for the 2020 cohort is Til Death Do Us Part by New York City-based writers Bobby Cronin and Caroline Prugh. The two-year process will begin with a reading in November 2018, go on to a workshop in Spring 2019, and conclude with a full production in Spring 2020.
The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.News List