Faculty voice:

Brad Willcuts: A show-stopping collaboration

Oct. 4, 2017

Brad Willcuts is assistant professor of musical theater and choreography in the College of Arts and Letters and the Department of Theatre representative for the ĭmáGen program

They say it takes 10 hours of rehearsal for every minute on the theatrical stage. Ten hours of practice, refinement, reconstruction, deconstruction, devising and revising.  For those of you who have enjoyed a 150-minute piece of musical theater, you can do your own math and try to imagine that amount of work on something that hopefully seems effortless. Therein lies the rub.

The ĭmáGen program is one of the greatest collaborations that I have had the privilege of working with in my time as a professional actor, director and choreographer.

The College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Theater and Wharton Center’s Institute for Arts and Creativity combine their efforts to create a process where graduate students, undergraduates and mid-Michigan high school and middle school students all work together with Broadway directors, actors, composers and writers to bring a new musical to life on the Pasant stage.  

actors on a stage in a group reading something

We bring in six professionals and a new piece of musical theater vying for a place on the Broadway stage to work in a developmental workshop with our facilities, resources and students.  They are only here for two weeks but end up producing a high-quality piece of musical theater that can call MSU a part of its development.

When not rehearsing for the production, the creative team guest teaches in various classes across the campus of MSU, allowing our program to reach beyond the stage and into the classroom. 

Recently, we had our public performances of “We Foxes,” a new musical by Ryan Scott Oliver who Entertainment Weekly has called “the future of Broadway.” Our production at MSU was the first time ever that the show had been seen on stage in its entirety. 

From here, the future is uncertain but we do know that whatever that future holds, MSU was a large part of the show’s evolution and the students, faculty and audience will have played a role in its development.

actors on a stage in a group