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The Journey of a Contemporary Performance Student’s Masters Culminating Experience

Liz Turner

In putting together a final thesis, one in which we would work on for the entire year, I wanted to create a piece of art that was meaningful and that would have a lasting legacy. Surrounded in the beautiful city of Valencia, I was inspired to write and compose an original musical Ciao Bambino, a blend of Mediterranean and American music, where I would serve as the writer, composer and lead actress.

Taking a project on like this is no easy task, in fact it has never even been done before on Berklee Valencia’s campus. Putting together a storyline, writing a full two act script, character development, a total of twenty-four songs with music and lyrics, ten produced musical demos in the Berklee recording studios, and a business/finance plan, was what I spent the majority of my year researching, and creating. So, when I graduate with my Masters, I will return back to New York City, and start workshopping my original musical, and present this package to theaters, producers, and investors in hopes of mounting a professional production on stage.

This year I thought about “What do I want my message to be to the world as a Berklee Alumni?” In a world today where we suffer an economic crisis, extreme violence, incurable diseases and horrific natural disasters, I thought heavily about how could I make an impact in the world through music, and storytelling with my own unique story, and original music. How I could bring Mediterranean and American music together into the musical theater world?

In 2016, the need for original musical theater is more important than ever, and must not be overlooked. While researching extensively how shows became successful on Broadway and in the West End, (or were not), I came across that in fact the most successful musicals were in fact ones not copied from a movie or TV show, book, or famous band, but ones that started from a completely new idea, such as Rent, A Chorus Line, Memphis, In the Heights etc.

As a young woman in the industry approaching an area that has been mostly male dominated and full of seasoned professionals, can be quite daunting. I reached out to other female professionals working in the musical theater industry to gain even more of an insight on what the industry is really like today. Speaking with Carmel Dean Musical Director for shows on Broadway such as If/Then, American Idiot, and the 25 th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, gave me a tremendous insight on both the joys and challenges of working in this profession.

We discussed how to prepare for a career in the theater, never stop learning your craft, how to balance writing and a performing career, etc. But one comment Carmel pointed out that really resonated with me was that “There will always be the need for good art, and the need for a live experience at the theater will never go away”. Where music is streamed online instead of a physical album purchase, or fancy apps that let us watch, and write music on our phones. There will always be that craving for a live theatrical experience, which get never be replaced authentically. This was very inspiring and encouraging to hear, about to embark on this rollercoaster, where we are not 100% sure where the theater industry may be heading. However, it has given me even more drive and determination, discovering how I will give my audience members the best live theatrical experience as possible.

As I pack my suitcases here in Valencia and return to The States, I know the hard work I have put into this Masters program will pay off and be very rewarding in the future. I am happy to have shared this experience with the Berklee Valencia campus, and look forward to seeing you all on the big stage soon!

By Elizabeth Turner


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1 Comment

  1. Al Shinkel

    My dear Liz…Cheers to you..We are all so prouod of you peace, Al Shinkel

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