By Lysa Legros
Lyric Theatre made its New York City debut at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 8 with its performance: “Live out Loud: the Music of Andrew Lippa.” The show featured a variety of songs from Andre Lippa’s iconic discography, including selections from “The Wild Party,” “Big Fish, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and other projects he worked on.
“These songs were chosen because they are among Andrew Lippa's best and because they suited the amazing talents of our Lyric Theatre students,” said Nathan Brewer, the director of the Lyric Theatre.
Lyric Theatre sang several of Lippa’s songs alongside Kate Baldwin, a Tony-award-winning actress, who also gave a solo performance of “I Don’t Need A Roof.”
Lyric Theatre students had previously received masterclasses from Baldwin and Lippa.
“Andrew Lippa's masterclass was amazing,” Brewer said. “Not only is he a world-class award-winning composer, but he is a thoughtful teacher with so much insight to share. He writes for actors, he understands actors and he knows how to help young actors access the rich material he has written. Our students were undoubtedly changed forever as singing actors because of their time with him.”
Baldwin and Lippa’s lessons helped improve students' singing and acting abilities.
“She’s a star. I was starstruck, but she made us sound so good,” said Tara Richardson, a freshman psychology major and one of the Lyric Theatre students, of learning from Baldwin. “Learning from her was so cool.”
Rebecca Mercedat, a freshman vocal music education major and lyric theatre student, said the class was informative.
“He had us sing songs via Zoom and he gave acting tips and it was cool because it was different from the singing technique that we would normally receive,” Mercedat said.
Lyric Theatre performed 17 songs in total. The wide variety of themes ranging from puppy love to heartbreak to self-empowerment emphasized the unique skills of every cast member.
“I really liked how everything was catered to everyone’s individual style,” said Kate Schroeder, a senior elementary education major and an audience member. “It was clear that each event was catered to everyone’s individual talents.”
Some songs such as “Pulled” and “I’m Not Waiting” were comedic, while others were more contemplative and serious in tone such as "Stranger," “How did it come to this” and “Maybe I like It This Way.”
“The act of singing in front of the audience and letting the audience in on the story you’re trying to tell provided an insight that I couldn’t get in practice,” said Richardson.
Although many songs were somber, the concert as a whole was lighthearted. Comedic duets and ensemble duos stole the night. Audience members anticipated and were delighted by performances like the number “Crazier than You.”
“I was looking forward to ‘Crazier than you,’” Schroeder said.
The performance of “Time Stops,” a duet featuring Kate Baldwin and Mark Squindo, a freshman music education major, blended sensitivity and comedy. As the two integrated romantic tenderness with the situational humor of their positions as a college student and Broadway star respectively, they created a truly dynamic performance of first love.
“I was extremely proud of all Lyric Theatre members on Friday, but I was personally moved by the duet shared by Mark Squindo and Kate Baldwin,” Brewer said. “Mark courageously and professionally stepped into the extraordinary challenge of singing with a Broadway legend, and Kate treated him like an equal.”
Other songs like the show’s namesake “Live Out Loud” were uplifting songs that encouraged having the confidence to go against the odds.
Another highlight of the show was its group performances, such as the quartet performance of “Poor Child” and cast-wide performances such as “Beethoven Day,” “It Gets Better” and “Every Goodbye is Hello.”
“I was nervous right before the event and anxious. But it went down, and I felt relieved after the performance ended,” Mercedat said.
The show ended with two ensemble performances. The penultimate song “It Gets Better” was sung by the entire Lyric Theatre cast.
Before Baldwin joined the Lyric Theatre for the final song, she thanked the cast.
“My biggest thanks of all is to all of you students behind me,” Baldwin said. “You worked remarkably this afternoon. We had so much fun working on all of their songs together. They are kind, they are smart, they are fun. They showed vulnerability, they showed humor, and support for one another and that just means the world to me, so thanks so much for inviting me to be here today,”
“Live out Loud: the Music of Andrew Lippa” ended with the energetic and uplifting song: “Be the Hero.”
“I liked the closing, seeing Kate and everyone singing,” Schroeder said. “The energy was so amazing.”
Lyric Theatre may have just made their New York debut, but they are not done just yet.
“I truly wish that students who love musical theatre, especially members of student theatre organizations, will join us next year,” Brewer said. “This is just the beginning of a bold and exciting new direction for Musical Theatre at TCNJ, and Lyric Theatre is at the heart of this movement.”