Skip to main content

ASU’s Music Theatre and Opera 2018-19 season centered on exploration

music theatre and opera season
May 04, 2018

The School of Music in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is internationally recognized for having one of the few programs that provides undergraduate and graduate students training in both music theater and opera performance. Each year, the program presents a performance season, and this year, the season is centered on exploration and exposing students and audience to the broadest forms of music theater and opera repertoire available.

In addition to new musicals and operas that are part of the 2018-19 season, the program will also embrace a new title, “Music Theatre and Opera.”

"While we treasure the history associated with 'Lyric Opera Theatre,' we have chosen to embrace 'Music Theatre and Opera' as a title that more clearly identifies what has made our program unique since 1964,” said Brian DeMaris, associate professor and artistic director of Music Theatre and Opera. “We have always been and will continue to prepare students in and produce both music theater and opera, along with everything between and beyond, including innovative art forms not yet defined."

In addition to four main-stage productions, the season will continue its series of new works readings and ongoing partnerships with multiple local and national arts organizations.

“Our emphasis on new works and partnerships with local nationally recognized professional arts organizations continue to place ASU on the cutting edge of music theater and opera training,” said DeMaris.

The pioneering New Works Reading series will open the season with “Marie Begins,” a jazz opera by Ellen Fishman and Julia Curcio in which the audience helps choose the plot through wireless clicker technology. DeMaris said he is excited to partner with Phoenix Theatre on “The Anxiety Project,” by Rachel Dean and David Brush, which will also be presented through the Festival of New American Theatre.

Leonard Bernstein's “Mass,” with additional lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is identified by the composer as "a theater piece for singers, dancers and players.” In celebration of the composer’s centennial and in collaboration with the ASU Symphony Orchestra, the ASU Choral Program, the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Phoenix Boy’s Choir, the production will be a full theatrical experience performed at ASU Gammage. The performance will feature internationally acclaimed artist Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant. Sykes, who is a teacher, actor, communicator and singer in a variety of genres, will be in residence throughout the semester to teach and engage with many members of the community who will be involved in "Mass" through performance, colloquia and other educational initiatives.

Traditional fare includes “Kiss Me Kate,” directed and choreographed by Molly Lajoie, and Handel's comic opera “Xerxes,” directed by Dale Dreyfoos, professor in the School of Music. 

A new rock opera, “Triassic Parq,” will be presented in co-production with Phoenix Theatre and directed by Toby Yatso, lecturer in the School of Music. This poignant, irreverent and fun coming-of-age story is an Arizona and university premiere.

DeMaris said the student labs are an important component to the program’s seasonal offerings and give students a place to practice becoming complete theater artists by choosing and producing their own productions. Next year's student lab projects include “Trouble in Tahiti” and “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!).”

For the finale, the program continues its Music Theatre Showcase in both New York City and Phoenix. This year-end event has quickly become a celebration of the talent ASU turns out each year.

“The ASU Music Theatre and Opera program is a gateway for talent entering and exiting from multiple directions,” said DeMaris. “For decades ASU has served to both bring talent into Arizona and to nurture Arizona talent and position it nationally. Our showcases in New York and Phoenix are a testament to our national reach and our commitment to the local community.”

Tickets go on sale Aug. 1 for the general public. Ticket prices and venues vary. Contact the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480-965-6447 or visit for more information.

Summer box office hours are 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30–4:30 p.m., Mondays–Thursdays.

ASU Music Theatre and Opera 2018-19 Season

New Work Reading
“Marie Begins”
An interactive jazz opera
Music by Ellen Fishman
Libretto by Julia Curcio
6 p.m. Sept. 9
ASU Kerr Cultural Center

“Kiss Me, Kate”
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Samuel and Bella Spewack
7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, 22, 28 and 29; 2 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Student Lab
“Trouble In Tahiti”
Music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein
7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27; 2 p.m. Oct. 28

Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz
Collaboration with ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Choral Program
Featuring Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant
7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 2 p.m. Nov. 18
ASU Gammage

Musical Theatre Holiday Cabaret
7:30 p.m. Nov. 26
Phoenix Theatre

New Work Reading
“The Anxiety Project”
Music by Rachel Dean
Book and lyrics by David Brush
Collaboration with Phoenix Theatre
6 p.m. Jan. 20
ASU Kerr Cultural Center

Music by George Frideric Handel
After a libretto by Silvio Stampiglia
7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 15 and 16; 2 p.m. Feb. 17
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Student Lab
“The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)”
Music by Eric Rockwell
Lyrics by Joanne Bogart
Book by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart
7:30 p.m. March 22 and 23; 2 p.m. March 24

“Triassic Parq”
Book, music and lyrics by Marshall Pailet
Book and lyrics by Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo
7:30 p.m. April 5, 6, 12 and 13; 2 p.m. April 7 and 14
Phoenix Theatre

Musical Theatre Showcase and Alumni Night
7:30 p.m. April 22
Phoenix Theatre

Opera Scenes
7:30 p.m. April 27
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

“Kiss Me, Kate” is presented by arrangement with Tams-Witmark Music Library Inc., 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

"Trouble in Tahitia" is presented by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Agent for Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company LLC, publisher and copyright owner.

"Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers" is pressented by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Agent for Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company LLC, publisher and copyright owner.

“The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc.

“Triassic Parq” is produced by special arrangement with Broadway Licensing.

More Arts, humanities and education


High school students hold up bright red fans.

High school students gather at ASU for annual Asian Pacific Advocacy, Culture and Education program

Across the U.S., Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities have a longstanding and rich history…

June 17, 2024
Mand and woman standing next to each other while holding an award and smiling.

China’s Ministry of Education honors ASU, Hainan University with excellence award

The international collaboration between Arizona State University and Hainan University (HNU) in southern China has some…

June 17, 2024
Collage of illustrations from short stories

ASU collaborates with Horizon 2045 to explore a post-nuclear existence in 'Far Futures'

By Bob Beard For nearly a century, nuclear deterrence theory — a paradoxical concept that nuclear weapons somehow make the world…

June 13, 2024