Broadway Performer Teaches Masterclass

Lili Ali, Arts Editor

On March 2, HMHS was awarded a tremendous opportunity to have Broadway performer and Tony Award nominee Christine Andreas teach drama club students a masterclass in acting through song. Ms. Andreas has performed as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Laurey in Oklahoma!, Frankie Frayne in On Your Toes, Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Jacqueline in La Cage Aux Folles. Ms. Andreas continues to perform in cabaret and concerts today. 

The masterclass was essentially made up of three stages. First, the students were taught stretches and breathing exercises to help release tension in their bodies. Ms. Andreas remarked, “Relaxation creates concentration which creates imagination.” She had each student stretch over a chair and stretch their stomachs, creating more room in their torso to open up for deeper breaths. She admitted that she uses a tennis ball to soften her jaw and release tension, and allowed students to try the technique on their own. She had the students lay down on a mat or towel and they did some yoga stretches such as the plow. She used an IT roller to stretch out her IT (iliotibial) band and allowed other students to use them too. She also had them do figure eights with their jaw. She contributes this to helping with temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) which is essentially tension in the cheek and jaw bone. She demonstrated poses to do on a medicine ball which included crunches and further stretching. Her whole mantra claims “a stronger core leads to a stronger voice” and she advises students to “release tension and open up your body for a stronger connection to the core and a better voice and overall health.” She uses many straw techniques to help her breathing and control, which include concentrating air into a straw and blowing bubbles into a cup of water. She sent the students home with a straw to practice on their own. Additionally, she encouraged the students to repeat these exercises at home and to focus on their breathing and the overall health of their bodies. 

Secondly, Ms. Andreas conducted singing exercises with six chosen students and critiqued their performance. She gave them helpful feedback to improve their acting through song and their breath control. The six students included Joseph Keegan (23’), Anna Forebaugh (21’), Griffin Adams (23’), Kiki Shim (22’), Shaelynn McKenna (22’), and Katrina Edwards (21’). They sang their chosen songs once through, with Mr. DiDonato accompanying them on the piano, received feedback, and then sang it once more to demonstrate their improvement. 

Lastly, Ms. Andreas, with encouragement from the students, performed a few songs to end off the masterclass. Griffin Adams concluded, “I was so happy to see Christine in person because the entire event made things feel more normal again. Her notes were very helpful and respectfully given and her performance at the end was so well done and ended the day on a very fun note. I am so fortunate to have been able to attend this masterclass and I found it especially helpful to speak with her given that she has performed the song I sang, so she gave very specific, helpful feedback. This was such a great opportunity.”