School of Music, Theatre and Dance

From OU to Broadway

Summer Masterclass Series connects OU students with some of Broadway’s top talent

icon of a calendarAugust 26, 2020

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Summer Masterclass Series connects OU students with some of Broadway’s top talent
OU Summer Masterclass Series - Broadway
The Virtual Summer Masterclass Series connected OU students with some of Broadway's top talent.

When the lights went dark in theatres across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland University Assistant Professor and Tony Award nominee Josh Young reached out to some of Broadway’s top talent and helped them connect virtually with OU’s musical theatre students as part of an innovative Summer Masterclass Series.

“I had spent much of the past year doing all I could to help our students book summer stock (theatre) work,” said Young, an assistant professor of theatre at Oakland. “I felt terrible that all of their jobs had been cancelled. I wanted to think of something they could look forward to each week that would keep their skills sharp and morale up.”

Young made his Broadway debut as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, which transferred to New York after an acclaimed run at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada. For his role as Judas, Young was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He has also appeared in The Grapes of WrathEvita (for which he won the Broadway World Toronto Award for Best Actor in a Musical), and Kiss Me, Kate at Stratford, as well as a national tour of Les Misérables and an international tour of West Side Story. In 2015, he starred in the musical Amazing Grace on Broadway where he originated the role of John Newton. 

“From working in the New York theatre scene for the past 17 years, I’ve made friends with actors with experience to impart, casting directors with gems of advice to give, talent agents, composers, directors, lyricists, etc. — all with more time on their hands than ever and a desire to do something constructive,” Young said. “Alta Dantzler, one of our fabulous voice professors, organized a masterclass in the beginning of the pandemic, and that gave me the idea to keep scheduling them for our musical theatre students through the summer.”

Stephen Schwartz

The Summer Masterclass Series kicked off on March 26 with composer Adam Gwon and has featured some of Broadway’s top talent, including: composer Brian Lowdermilk, casting director Rachel Hoffman of Telsey and Co. Casting, West End and Broadway star Sierra Boggess, casting director Pat McCorkle of McCorkle Casting, West End and Broadway star Laura Michelle Kelly, Tony Award winner Jesse Mueller, casting director Merri Sugarman of Tara Rubin Casting, world renowned acting coach Joan Rosenfels, talent agent Jed Abrahams of KMR Talent, Broadway stars Robyn Hurder and Clyde Alves, Broadway director/producer Richard J Alexander, Broadway and TV star Corey Cott, Tony Award winning composer Stephen Schwartz, Broadway lyricist Amanda Green, Broadway star Laura Osnes, Broadway composer Andrew Lippa, Talent Manager Jen Namoff, Canadian theatre and Broadway star Paul Alexander Nolan, SideShow lyricist Bill Russell, Tony Award nominee Robert Cuccioli, Broadway star Michael James Scott, Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, and Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis.

“I just went down my list of friends who I thought would not only excite our students, but who would be able to give them valuable insight and knowledge,” Young said. “Each special guest has had different and valuable gifts they’ve given their students. From specific audition tips to vocal technique adjustments. I think every student has been able to take something away from the Masterclass Series.”

OU student Mariah Colby, who is currently working on her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre, has participated in several of the virtual Masterclass sessions this summer.

“It’s really amazing that Josh has been able to provide so many connections to Broadway stars and agents, and that we’ve gotten the chance to meet and work with them,” Colby said. “I was lucky enough to work with Stephen Schwartz, a Broadway composer. He was so kind and provided so much wonderful insight and I will always remember meeting him and getting the chance to work with him. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Masterclass series will continue on Aug. 27 with Tony Sepolvita, Emmy-nominated senior vice president of casting for Warner Brothers, and will conclude on Sept. 3 with TV and film actor Paul James. To sign up, or for more information, contact Josh Young at

In addition, the Virtual Masterclass Series that connected high school students and rising college freshmen with OU faculty will return in October. The summer series, which concluded on Aug. 26, featured George Stoffan (clarinet), Alta Boover Dantzler (voice), Jennifer Oliverio (trumpet and brass), Terry Herald (music technology), and Josh Young (theatre), as well as special guest and Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga.

For more information or to participate, contact

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