Do you like musicals but have no ear for opera? Then come down June 3 to Stage 212 in La Salle and see if Joshua Fullerton can make you change your mind.
Fullerton, a Princeton native getting ready to graduate from Chicago College of Performing Arts, is a classically trained vocalist steeped in both musical theater and in opera. He approached Stage 212 with a catchy idea: Would they be open to a kind of instructional performance in both genres?
Stage 212 was all for it. “Classical to Contemporary,” a one-shot performance by Fullerton and three classmates from the CCPA, will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Stage 212, 700 First St. Tickets are $15 each and may be purchased online at www.stage212.org or at the door the night of the performance, but not at the Stage 212 box office. Proceeds will go to the performers’ upcoming training trip.
Fullerton plans to perform some classical musical theater numbers from shows such as “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Les Miserables” and then segue into opera. The goal is to give the audience a chance to grasp the similarities and differences between the genres and, he hopes, to better appreciate opera. The chief difference, he said, is in how the two genres have progressed over time.
“In layman’s terms, what’s different about the two genres is musical theater is always ever-evolving,” he explained. “Opera is very old and antiquated and very stuck.”
To assist the audience with the opera selections, English translations of the foreign-language lyrics (most operas were written in dialectic Italian) will be beamed onto a screen behind the performers, enabling the audience to follow along.
“I feel that’s where people get bogged down,” Fullerton said. “People go, ‘Oh, that’s really pretty but I can’t follow along.’”
“I could listen to that young man sing all day long. He has a phenomenal voice. And he’s talented not only vocally but also with acting.”— Caryn Brown, Stage 212 board member
Longtime friend Caryn Brown is on the Stage 212 board and agreed to relay Fullerton’s request. That, Brown said, was “an easy sell.” Fullerton was a known and highly-regarded performer and the board was glad to spotlight a local talent.
“I could listen to that young man sing all day long,” Brown said. “He has a phenomenal voice. And he’s talented not only vocally but also with acting.”
Natalie Smigel, business manager for Stage 212, agreed the company was glad to help a Stage 212 veteran – Fullerton had been in “To Kill a Mockingbird” – and to help some nascent talent in the process.
“I knew we’d have patrons who’d be very interested and it’s a rare opportunity for people in the area to hear this quality of trained voices,” Smigel said.
Joining Fullerton will be musicians Zachary Mendenhall, Triss Wright and Annie Bennett. Though their performance is one night only, Fullerton hasn’t ruled out a return trip to the local stage.
“If this goes off without a hitch, I might ask them if I can do this again next summer,” Fullerton said. “I hope this will open up new avenues for Stage 212.”