Dream on

Dream on

By Cynthia Retamozo

With the success of recent film musicals like “Dreamgirls” and celebrities from Ashlee Simpson to Usher gracing stages all over the world, majors like theatre and music may begin to have more practical potential beyond the starving artist circuit.

Music industry department head Leon Janikian said many Northeastern music students have the talent to become the next big hit on the radio, but have less flashy ambitions.

“There are some tremendously talented musicians here,” he said. “They often have the potential to make it big, but most want to concentrate on the business, merchandising or development aspect of music.”

Janikian said even though many music students aren’t interested in performing as a career, some, like freshman music industry major Dan Altieri, have performed in the past.

Altieri has played in the band, Aston, since high school. The band independently recorded its first album recently, which can be heard on the band’s MySpace page.

“Music has always been an interest of mine,” Altieri said. “And although I’m not sure of where I want to be in the future with music industry, it’s easier to get up and go to class for something I enjoy.”

Though the music industry isn’t as traditional a career path like medicine and law, there is much more to music industry than most people realize, Janikian said.

Mike Bishop is a senior music industry major who has worked with seven underground bands over eight years, some of which have been signed to major record labels like Virgin.

“There’s a whole business behind it,” he said, explaining the amount of work it takes to book shows and to get the band’s name public attention.

Although Bishop said he doesn’t want to be a performer, he does want to have a reputation in the management industry.

“I want people to say ‘Oh, the show was booked by Mike Bishop, so it must be good,'” he said.

Senior music industry Lindsey Anderson said through her co-op experiences she has met managers for several well-known artists, including Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. She said to become successful in the field, one has to know the right people.

“It’s all about connections,” she said. “You have to have good contacts.”

Janikian said many graduates of the music program go on to work for record companies like Sony and Universal, along with several indie labels. Others go into retail, artist recruitment, recording technology and even law school with a concentration in copyright law.

“We have some of the smartest people in the school,” he said. “Through their co-ops they get people of major status to write them letters of recommendation, so they graduate with very impressive resumes.”

Students with Hollywood dreams often choose to major in theatre. With hit Broadway musicals like “Rent,” “The Producers,” “Chicago” and, more recently, “Dreamgirls” making big screen debuts, musicals are resurging into mainstream culture.

Theatre professor and costume designer Francis McSherry said with many theatre acts becoming film adaptations, it adds appeal for people who may not be traditional theatre-goers.

“Theatre has always had a great message to convey,” she said. “As it becomes easier to accept, I hope that people will think it might be fun to go to a show.”

McSherry said even though the world of theatre can be cutthroat, many theatre majors have potential to make it on Broadway, in film or television, however sometimes even the most talented will get rejected.

Sophomore theatre major Julie Mercurio said she has had a passion for acting since her first performance in an elementary school play. While she said her dream is a career in theatre, she and many other theatre majors simultaneously pursue other passions with hopes of combining the two. For instance, Mercurio is a theatre and education double major.

“We don’t think of it as a fall-back major,” she said. “Instead, we want to integrate the two. I would love to direct elementary school plays, for example.”

Mercurio noted that theatre is not always taken sincerely even though many plays have a significant message for their audience. “The Vagina Monologues,” for example, which will be performed in Blackman Auditorium in February, conveys the reality of violence inflicted upon women. With the recent popularity of musicals, Mercurio said she hopes theatre will be seen in a more serious light.

Theatre department chair Janet Bobcean said many theatre majors graduate and either get their master’s degree in fine arts or move to cities like New York or Los Angeles to pursue dreams of making a film or television debut.

Bobcean said theatre majors who perform in school-sponsored plays are talented and have the potential to accomplish big-screen status.

“I can imagine them hitting it big in either Broadway or in movies and television,” she said. “I invite students to watch our actors in the spring musical ‘Guys and Dolls’ and see for themselves.”

Leave a Reply