On Broadway, Alumni Lacamoire, Oremus, and Wells Give Back
Tony Award-winning Broadway titans Alex Lacamoire ’95 (Hamilton, In the Heights) and Stephen Oremus ’92 (The Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots) recently spoke as part of a panel moderated by Will Wells '11 (Hamilton), "Directing Greatness: An Evening Behind Broadway." The next day, Lacamoire visited Berklee to give notes to students during a rehearsal for an upcoming Berklee production of In the Heights (one performance is sold out but tickets remain for November 17 and November 19 shows).
The panel event at the Cutting Room in New York City offered a chance for alumni from both Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee to hear directly from these accomplished alumni who have seen meteoric success in the theater world, noted Karen Bell, Berklee's chief alumni affairs officer. Wells, a producer, engineer, and musician who has worked with renowned artists such as Quincy Jones '51, Barbra Streisand, John Mayer '98, and Ariana Grande—in addition to his work on Hamilton—moderated the discussion.
Lacamoire, an orchestrator, arranger, and musical director who is also a conductor and keyboard player, and Oremus, a composer, arranger, and orchestrator who is also a musical director, music supervisor, and conductor, walked the audience through their journeys from Berklee to New York, where they landed some of the best gigs on Broadway.
Lacamoire reminisced fondly about Berklee, saying that his alma mater and the friends he made here led him to where he is today. Both he and Oremus made it clear that their successes were made meaningful thanks to the people they have worked with. Oremus recounted the story of the first Broadway show he conducted, saying that he got emotional when an audience member approached him to say how Oremus's passion for the orchestra was so clearly visible.
"I do love them," said Oremus, "and it was amazing to have the person see that."
A Rehearsal Like No Other
The Cutting Room event concluded with a celebration of the release of Berklee Today's fall 2016 issue, which featured Lacamoire on its cover, but the spirit of giving back didn't stop there. The following day, Lacamoire made an impromptu visit to Berklee and participated in both a student clinic and a student rehearsal for In the Heights. Lacamoire stayed for the full three hours of the rehearsal, answering questions for the first hour and actively participating in the rehearsal the rest of the time.
Keyboard player Esin Aydingoz was impressed by how Lacamoire was very interactive, giving helpful advice and noticing very subtle differences between their performances and the Broadway production.
"The rehearsal was amazing because he made In the Heights the In the Heights we know," Aydingoz said. "He was involved [with the musical] from the very beginning, so he knew so much about the characters. He gave great tips to the actors and they immediately started to sing and act better after his comments."
Cast member Gabriela Cabezas, who plays the character Camila Rosairo in Berklee's production of the musical, echoed similar sentiments, saying Lacamoire had pointers for every single member of the band and ensemble.
“He was writing on his notepad for every number we performed, stopping us when necessary, and conducting us. He guided, retaught, and was on the ball the whole time. If the tiniest note was off or if a word did not have the right diction, he immediately corrected it with so much grace,” said Cabezas. “He still knows the whole score by heart, and his humbleness and openness astounded us the most.”