Broadway Star Shares Expertise with Sanford Students
On Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th, Broadway star Lisa Howard returned to the Sanford campus to lead acting and singing workshops.
As the guest of performing arts department chair, Clint Williams, Howard channeled her energy, positivity, and theatrical experience as she interacted with the students. Williams shared: "Lisa challenged students to think outside the box in terms of becoming a character. Using different acting exercises and techniques, students were able to think critically about what it means to actually inhabit a character."'
In the group acting workshop, Howard had the 12 participants, some from Williams’ Acting 1 class and others from the musical cast, complete a series of exercises designed to help them create character through body language, gestures, and facial expressions. She demonstrated, and had them replicate, how subtle physical changes can add dimension to or change the perception of a character. “I would not have wanted to miss out on this experience,” said Jack Taylor ’20. “I learned a lot from the workshop, and I am sure it will help me as I play the prince in the musical. I also enjoyed hearing Lisa’s responses as she answered our questions about her career and her time in films and on the Broadway stage.”
Ava Lafferty ’20 has been cast as Belle in the winter musical Beauty and the Beast. As the lead in that show, Lafferty has already demonstrated excellent skills as a singer and actor. She chose to have a private, one-hour lesson with Howard, and enjoyed her time with the star immensely. She elaborated: “It was nice to work with Lisa Howard. She was really funny, but she was also knowledgeable. In a short period of time, Lisa helped me with my singing, specifically as it relates to getting into the mindset of my character for the upcoming musical. I am a stronger singer because of the time I had with Lisa.”
Students were not required to be in the musical in order to take advantage of the opportunities Howard’s visit afforded them. Bella Warner ’20 has a demanding swim schedule which prevents her from participating in the show. She, too, had a one-hour session with Howard that was extremely helpful to her. She explained: “Working with Lisa literally changed my life as a singer. She helped my voice and its overall sound by working on where I think about the placement of my voice. My vocal range has improved because I have learned how to open up and sing higher notes. Lisa was certainly fun and energetic, but she was also focused on helping me interact with a song and capture what it is all about. I am looking forward to showcasing my improved skills in concert choir and at the year-end recital.”
Howard is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music and holds a BFA in musical theatre. She is most known for playing Siobhan in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Spelling Bee went on to win many awards, including the Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble. Howard created the character of Jenny in the Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You, receiving a nomination for the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. She most recently portrayed Jenny in Escape to Margaritaville, which closed a short time ago, thus giving her the time to return to Sanford.
A big thank you to Mr. Williams for coordinating the very special weekend for the Sanford students and to Lisa Howard for generously sharing her time and talent with them. It was a memorable experience that will long be remembered and appreciated by all who participated.