Original Musical Staged at Berklee

In April Berklee students presented an original musical scripted by students and faculty titled Love and Hunger. The production is based on the words and music of Billie Holiday. Prior to the performance, veteran singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater (who has performed the role of Billie Holiday in productions in London and Paris) spent three days coaching student vocalists and attending rehearsals. Bridgewater added to the stage magic during the song "Lover, Come Back to Me," when she engaged in scat-singing duel with students Charles Turner and Nadia Washington. Led by Victor Gould '09, the Berklee Billie Holiday ensemble, supplied accompaniment for Holiday's songs in the production.

Love and Hunger was the culmination of the Advanced Theater Production Workshop, a new course co-taught by Liberal Arts faculty members Amy Merrill and Rebecca Perricone that emphasizes scripting and performance. The class was offered simultaneously with an advanced small ensemble class led by Professor Terri Lyne Carrington dedicated to playing and arranging Billie Holiday's music. On September 24, Love and Hunger will be performed as part of BeanTown Jazz Festival 09.

The Advanced Theater Production Workshop is one of several newly added courses that focus on musical theater. Other classes have centered on the performance of the musical Parade and on arranging and writing for musical theater.

In the upcoming academic year, theater production classes will focus on the life and work of Michael Jackson in a new course taught by Merrill titled "Advanced Scriptwriting Workshop." Students will research and write the Michael Jackson script, and in April 2010 the piece will be refined and performed by students from the Theater Production Workshop and instrumentalists from Carrington's Michael Jackson ensemble.

Recently, Berklee has begun offering classes in writing for musicals. "We are very excited about this initiative," Merrill says. "For many Berklee students, doing musical theater in high school was the impetus for their considering a career in music."