Disney musician advises aspiring performers

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    After performing to the best of her ability in front of her peers and a special guest, one TCU student waits for a response from the audience.

    However, performing is exactly what special guest David Friedman said he hopes students avoid.

    Some TCU musical theater students had the opportunity to sing during their musical theater lab and then work one-on-one with Friedman in order to better their connectivity to the audience. Friedman told the students that acting should not be an interpretation of somebody else.

    Freidman was involved in the musical production for the Disney movies “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” “Mulan” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” according to the Internet Movie Database. While working for Disney, his job titles included conductor, vocal contractor and vocal arrangements.

    “Everything you need you already have,” Friedman said. “You are a person.”

    Friedman was also conductor for the Broadway musicals “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Beauty and the Beast” and four other productions.

    Friedman said that students can better relate to what their characters are feeling by drawing upon experiences in their own lives. He told students that when an actor outwardly performs an emotion for the audience instead of relating to how the character is feeling, the emotion is not believable.

    “We emote because we don’t want to feel,” Friedman said.

    Many students in the two musical theater labs said they appreciated the critiques Friedman gave them.

    “It’s always so refreshing to get to work with somebody who has a new perspective,” said junior BFA musical theater major Stephanie Toups. “In this department we spend so much time working with these professors, and they’re all incredible. But it’s exciting to have somebody new come look at us.”

    This is the second time Friedman has made an appearance at TCU, said assistant theater professor Penny Maas. He worked with students in a similar fashion, starting with them singing for him then working on the performer’s relatability with the audience.

    Maas met Friedman last fall while he was working on a musical production in Irving, Texas. Maas said she works to bring two or three guest artists who are currently in the field to visit TCU and work with students each year. These artists come from different aspects of the performance world including producers, actors, casting directors and conductors like Friedman.

    “I think it’s important for the students to be exposed to professional perspectives,” Maas said. “It’s one thing for me to say, ‘Oh no, they like this,’ or ‘Oh, they want that,’ but it’s different for them to hear it from someone who’s done it.”

    The ultimate goal of this experience, Maas said, is to help students “get to truthfulness through their songs.” Maas said that believability is a primary goal that the department strives for when instructing its students.

    Friedman said that students already have the ability to be believable, and they must find that within themselves.

    “Life is totally done on the inside,” Friedman said. “And you have infinite possibilities that are already there. Whatever they want is already inside of them, and whatever obstacles they hit are only internal.”