YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Seven musical theater students from Youngstown State University got the chance to go to Oslo, Norway to learn how to perform with other students as part of a conference.
Dr. Nancy Wolfgang, who oversees the musical theater program at YSU, was in charge of organizing the trip. She said the hardest part was trying to find funding. YSU helped, along with some private donors and portions that the students had to pay themselves.
Wolfgang said she then had to get permission from the university to take her students out of the country.
“There was just a need to establish that this was going to be a worthwhile, educational trip for these students, if the university was going to get behind it,” Wolfgang said.
The students also had to compete with schools from different countries to even be able to take part in the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance Conference.
“Students from all over the world submitted online videos in hopes to be selected to be the performance team that went,” Wolfgang said.
There were only 18 spots open for schools, and Wolfgang’s students were among the three teams chosen from the United States.
“When we left, I had some very nervous students, people who hadn’t been on a plane before, people who never been out of the country,” Wolfgang said.
“I was the nervous wreck. I was on the plane, my face was white, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ Lots of tears were shed, before, during and after,” said YSU junior Angelique Tanner.
The students said the 5-day trip taught them more than they could have ever imagined.
“It was the accents and the dialects you had to work. And the song that I did was the most international song that was in the showcase,” said YSU sophomore Mia Colon.
Colon got the chance to perform with students from Australia, Norway and Thailand. She said she had to adjust to singing in different types of accents.
“I found myself not necessarily altering the way I sang, but the way I spoke in a sense just so it made things a little smoother,” Colon said.
“It really opened my mind to musical theater in different countries, which I haven’t thought about that much,” said YSU junior Stefon Funderburke.
Funderburke is now thinking about musical theater in Germany.
After the showcase, the students met with agents, and Funderburke was picked to audition for the German version of the Lion King.
“They want to hear me sing in English and a little in German, then to do a scene in German too,” he said.
The students returned from the trip at the beginning of September.
“There’s just stuff that you learn through exposure, on any trip, let alone an international trip,” Colon said.