"Starting with My Voice," an original musical written by Audra Sergel and Trent Rash, adjunct instructors at Stephens College, will be presented Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Windsor Auditorium on the Stephens campus. Tickets are $10. Click for ticket information or more on the show.
The music is provided by Sergel, who teaches voice and piano and provides accompaniment at Stephens, and the book is written by Rash, who gives private voice lessons at Stephens, teaches Performance Techniques and performs in theatre productions.
"Starting with My Voice"—accepted into the 2014 Chicago Musical Theater Festival as one of just eight musicals out of 40 submissions selected to be part of the event—is the musical journey of five interconnected souls, that while living their human, everyday, complicated lives are learning simple, spiritual lessons. The songs lead the audience to peek into these lessons in grief, love, humor, and self-acceptance, and make for a show that is funny, real, from the heart and honest. It is rated PG-13 for mild language and adult themes.
Sergel’s music was originally composed for a revue, “Now is the Time,” which debuted at The Bridge in Columbia last fall. Hearing all of the pieces together at that event, Sergel said, made her realize she had something special—a collection of songs with a unifying theme.
“They are all about making a decision, a choice moment,” she said. “They’re individual stories about being who we are and how we decide to advocate for change.”
Sergel reached out to Rash to help write the book and direct the production, and professional actors have since joined the cast.
Although outside of the realm of their teaching duties, Sergel and Rash agree their musical could benefit students. The musical could be performed in the future using students in the cast, Rash said. On a broader level, it shows how making one decision—in this case submitting the music to the festival—can have significant results.
“As an artist, when you feed yourself, you share,” Sergel said. “It shows students you have to stay open. Stephens women are courageous, they put themselves out there, and that’s contagious. This is about taking the next step and being bold.”
The next step for “Starting with My Voice” will be showings at The Den Theatre in Chicago and for the Hannibal Arts Council next month.
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