Broadway stars Jan Horvath and Keith Buterbaugh have teamed up with Michele Constantino, founder and director of Reg Lenna Civic Center's Drama Enrichment Program, to bring the "Pops and Broadway" concert to Jamestown.
The concert, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 p.m., will feature the talents of Horvath, Buterbaugh and students from all over the county who are participating in master classes with the Broadway performers. According to Buterbaugh, who has been the program's mentor for 10 years, the energy of the program piqued his interest to continue being a mentor.
"A good friend of mine, Julie Livengood, introduced me to Michele, and we clicked immediately," said Buterbaugh. "What we got going with the kids was so productive that I've been coming ever since.
"... Ultimately I hope that they improve their skills to become better performers," he continued. "If any young person can acquire the skill to stand up in front of an audience with confidence, poise and relaxation to address and tell a story to an audience, that in itself is a wonderful gift. And, that's what they are all getting, regardless of whether or not they go on to a career in music or acting."
Every year Buterbaugh makes his way to Jamestown from New York City to host master classes with area students in hopes of inspiring them to express themselves musically. This year he managed to recruit Horvath, a close friend of his from his performances in "Phantom of the Opera," to also participate as a mentor.
"The program is getting better and better, and every year we try to raise the bar," said Buterbaugh. "And, for years I've been wanting to bring in a female guest artist to work with the girls as well. So, this year we got Jan. When you're friends and you follow each other's careers, you're constantly hoping you can work together in some capacity again, and finally this opportunity presented itself."
Horvath's resume includes Broadway performances in "Cats," "Sweet Charity" and "The Three Penny Opera," in addition to many off-Broadway shows such as "New York Rock," "Chess" and more. She has been a guest soloist with more than 130 orchestras and recently released a solo album entitled "Never Too Late." And, she also teaches private voice and vocal technique at NYU as well as running her own private voice studio in New York City for 12 years.
One of the techniques that Horvath uses while mentoring is giving the students real-life scenarios in which they use their voice as an instrument. Another technique she utilizes is getting the students to focus on their emotions.
"As an adolescent people are always stifling that out of you," said Horvath. "A lot of kids I work with in New York City have never been able to use their full shout because they are constantly reminded to use their inside voice. But, when they finally find it they get emotional because they've always been reprimanded for it."
One of the students from previous years, Michael Hawk, has met with much success after participating in the program. After the program he began to study opera with Daniel L. Ihasz of SUNY Fredonia and is currently at a five-week opera camp in Colorado. There are also students who've gone on to careers in Los Angeles, New York and Erie.
"To provide this caliber of performance and teaching to young people to get in touch with themselves is an opportunity to get outside of the box to be a creator," said Constantino.
"I feel privileged to get to work with young people who are hungry, talented and want to learn," added Horvath. "I'm very passionate about it, and I get really excited when they start to get it. I also think that my enthusiasm helps them to understand the energy that it takes, because performing is athletic. You have to commit your whole being to making the sound."
Buterbaugh hopes that the two-week session will prepare the students for the upcoming performance of "Pops and Broadway," in which the John Wilder band will accompany the performers.
"Hopefully they will have perfected a lot of the skills and tools we've given them to incorporate them into shaping their songs so that they can tell a story and actually move an audience," said Buterbaugh. "We're also bringing in a professional band who accompanies them. It's first rate because it's singing with live musicians in front of a live audience."
Horvath agreed, stating that the opportunity for the students to be on stage with the band, Buterbaugh and herself will allow them to experience the energy behind a professional performance.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to work with them and perform with them too, because I've been wanting to do this for a long time," she said.
The eight students will each perform between two and three songs, in addition to duets with Horvath and Buterbaugh. According to Constantino, the students feel like professionals after the experience.
Buterbaugh added, "It's very meaningful for me to come here because it contributes to my whole soul. If you invest in children, in return you will reap the benefits a thousand fold."
In addition to the concert, guests also have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to win a one-week vacation to Hawaii. The vacation includes round-trip airfare for two and an oceanfront condo on the island of Maui. There are only 125 raffle tickets available. For $100, the tickets include primary seating admission for two to the concert and two tickets to the Kahana Luau on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall in which Horvath and Buterbaugh will be present. General admission tickets are $20 at the door and $15 presale. They can be purchased at the Reg Lenna box office or by calling 484-7070. Proceeds from the event will support the expenses of the Drama Enrichment Program.
The Reg Lenna Civic Center is located at 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information call 763-2034 or visit depjamestown.com.