SDSU’s Stars in the Limelight
SDSU’s Musical Theatre MFA program shines with the starpower of its students. Its performers have been making their names known within the industry, and two of them in particular, Tug Watson and Katie Banville, have had notably eventful winter breaks.
For Watson, it came in the form of a Broadway dream come true when he was cast in a temporary role in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats.”
Watson had previously toured the country and other parts of the world in the role of Munkustrap, and was selected by Kristen Blodgette, the music supervisor for “Cats” and various other Lloyd Webber shows, to lend his tenor voice for a temporary (two-week) gig. He, along with six singers who are understudies for various roles, enhanced the caliber of the production’s vocals by singing offstage into a microphone as others danced onstage.
While Watson’s experience was not what one might typically associate with a Broadway debut, it was nonetheless a great step forward as a performer. He said, “I have to admit, this debut was not glorious and had no bells and whistles. But it was my debut on Broadway and I am so grateful I made it. A little speck of time that was so exciting. So no makeup, no costumes, no applause. Just the chance to sing at the Neil Simon Theatre.”
Juggling Several Roles, and School
Back in San Diego, Banville was cast as a swing for the La Jolla Playhouse’s production of “Freaky Friday.” As a swing, Banville has learned several roles within the show and will act as a replacement for actors who miss a performance.
Banville said, “In terms of my own personal growth, being a swing will definitely challenge my technical and artistic capabilities. All the roles I cover require performers who can act, sing, and dance. Since I have to cover several roles, the demands I have to meet are particularly varied and diverse in nature. Learning these many tracks means learning the show from a broader perspective, and seeing the big picture, so that I can determine how any given role I’m covering fits in.”
The production, which officially opens Feb. 3 and runs until mid-March, has allowed Banville to work with director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, who have worked on award-winning Broadway shows, as well as Broadway veteran Heidi Blickenstaff.
Banville said, “Working with Ashley and Trujillo has been an incredible opportunity. Watching them work is both educational and inspiring. Also, Heidi is an amazing performer whose creativity, technical mastery and incredible sense of humor make her absolutely delightful to work with.”News List