Beyond the Triple Threat — It Takes Experience to Teach an Artist How to Make It on Broadway
When Gillian Albrecht first appeared in A Chorus Line on Broadway in 1975, she had that magic, that unidentifiable quality that says, not only am I a triple threat – I can sing, dance, and act – I’m more! She had that spark of energy, that mysterious amalgam that fills in the gaps between those three most coveted abilities and creates the real deal. A Broadway star.
Albrecht’s career took her further on Broadway via such plays as Jerome Kern’s Very Good Eddie, which led to her touring with Marvin Hamlisch, performing with Hal David, and playing lead roles in national tours of Damn Yankees, Gypsy, Cabaret, featured roles in Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Chicago, and more, before moving to Europe in 1979 to star as Anita in Leonard Bernstein’s Production of West Side Story with the Hamburg Ballet. Following an extended European career, a whirlwind of television, galas, and nightclubs, Albrecht married, started a family, and eventually made her way to Columbia, SC where she soon became an integral parts of the arts community, particularly when it came to behind-the-scenes fundraising.
This summer, however, Albrecht is revisiting her days on the great white way and sharing a bit of the magic of what it takes to get there with some Columbia kids. Broadway at USC is a musical theatre workshop taking the stage from July 30th through August 6th for Broadway hopefuls between the ages of 12 and 20. “I want our Broadway students to not only see their bodies as instruments, but to learn how to train and maintain their instruments,” Albrecht says.
This is the second summer for the Broadway at USC Musical Theatre Workshop and Albrecht, who is the founding director of the program, credits the impressive faculty she brings in for its success. Renowned director Robert Richmond returns this year and will be joined by Steven Gross, Janet Hopkins, Stan Brown, and Stephanie Gibson among other faculty members specializing in dance, theatre, and music. Richmond is Associate Professor in Theatre at USC and Director of Undergraduate Studies/Performance, as well as former Associate Director of the Aquila Theatre Company. Fulbright Scholar Steven Gross earned his Ph.D. in music and conducting from Yale and has worked extensively on Broadway and London’s West End while Stephanie Gibson’s Broadway credits include Spamalot, the Addams Family, and Cinderella. In addition to faculty positions at USC, mezzo soprano Stephanie Gibson is a 16-year veteran of the New York Metropolitan Opera and Stan Brown is an award-winning actor, voice specialist, and veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Albrecht’s faculty demonstrates the importance of multidisciplinary training and the leg up it can offer, particularly to performing artists. “The concept is that even as a dancer, for example, you can learn from watching other kinds of performers,” Albrecht says. “Are actors going to ‘park and bark,’ as they say, or are they going to use all of their facilities to move their audiences to tears?”
An in-studio final performance on August 6th will demonstrate the results of the young hopefuls’ studies. For more information on how to apply visit artsandsciences.sc.edu. Albrecht notes that scholarships are available.