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Hit songwriter gives UM students a chance to shine in musical

Approximately 50 hand-selected UM music students auditioned Tuesday for a role in a new musical by renowned songwriter and producer Desmond Child.

Child has written and produced more than forty hit songs by artists including Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin and Clay Aiken.

Now Child has decided to tackle the Broadway stage with his new musical JazzAge.

The musical is co-written with author Davitt Sigerson, whose novel Faithful was recently released by Random House.

Child and Sigerson were looking for talented jazz singers to perform in the preliminary stages of the show, including the read-through and workshopping of JazzAge.

Those auditioning gathered to listen to Child and Sigerson speak about the show and what they were looking for and were then sent outside to wait for their turn to sing. For the audition, performers, decked out in jazzy 1920s-style outfits, were required to sing a standard jazz song in the swing style.

Child, a native of Miami, has been so impressed with UM music students in the past that he decided to hold the only audition for JazzAge at UM.

“We’re looking forward to workshopping [JazzAge],” Sigerson said. “It will help us see the weaknesses and strengths of the show and identify problems to be worked out. Like the saying goes, ‘Musicals aren’t written; they’re rewritten.'”

“We basically took three days of every month and called them sacred, just to be used for working on the musical,” Child said.

“We wanted to write a rollicking, old-style, rich musical with a love story,” Sigerson said.

Set in a 1920s Paris expatriate community, JazzAge is based on historic characters such as painter Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein, the first known openly lesbian woman in the world.

Also included in the cast are fictional characters such as Joe, an American who comes to Paris to paint, and Martina, Picasso’s model and mistress.

“This show makes sense because jazz is a predecessor of musical theater,” Ashley Atkins, senior musical theater major, said. “I chose to sing ‘Angel Eyes’ because it shows both the jazz style and my own personality. I’m excited to do this audition because jazz has always been my favorite genre of music.”

“We listen to lots of musical styles in the musical theater program. It’s nice to get to sing in some of those different styles for auditioners,” said musical theater major Ashley Chambers, who sang “Hit Me with a Hot Note.”

“Secretly I always wanted to be a jazz singer,” Omar Lopez-Cepero, another JazzAge hopeful, said. “You know what? Sometimes I scat in the shower.”

Unfortunately for the UM students who auditioned, the show has only nine roles and a small ensemble to be cast.

Ironically, most of UM’s jazz music majors were not invited to audition.

Child and Sigerson claimed to have read over 200 books in preparation for writing this musical.

“Much of the dialogue was written by brilliant people, who weren’t us,” Sigerson said. “We took a lot of the text from memoirs and other historical sources.”

The first table reading of JazzAge is slated for May 19.

Jaclyn Lisenby can be contacted at j.lisenby@umiami.edu

CHILD’S HIT SONGLIST

April 2, 2004

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.