Message from the Dean – October 8, 2018

First some good news:

Our students and graduates continue to excel! Flute Student Kaitlin Lee was selected by recorded audition to perform in the upcoming Sir James Galway Flute Master Class, on Tuesday, October 10, 2018, at Oklahoma City Community College. Musical Theatre graduate Dorian Quinn Herron will be performing in the musical tour Legally Blonde in January and Musical Theatre graduate Michael Russell is currently performing in the Broadway Tour of Miss Saigon.  Finally, Dance graduate Ali Hendrix is currently performing with Norwegian Cruise Lines. As teachers, there is nothing more rewarding than to witness the success of our students.

Now a story:

The initial years of my elementary school experience occurred in a multi-grade, basement classroom under a Nevada, Iowa church. My teacher’s name was Miss Galbraith. She was a newly minted college graduate, and had the vitality and perseverance to keep 21 first-through-third-graders predominantly focused on scholastic tasks. Much of the time, that job indisputably resembled kitten herding. There were 14 active boys in that cinderblock classroom, and as luck would have it, three of them were named Steve. To my unconstrained consternation, Miss Galbraith christened me Steve “2”. Steve “1” was a sharp-witted, popular, blue-eyed, blond, Australian boy with an accent, named Steve Quick. Even his name was cooler than mine. As the firstborn child in our family, I had no experience with “middle-child syndrome”.  As the year progressed, and I absorbed the concept of alphabetical order, the unfairness of “Q” before “H” rankled me even further. Steve Quick was the Marcia to my Jan, the Bart to my Lisa, and the Mary to my Edith. My identity as Steve “2” vexed me until we returned to Minnesota at the halfway point of my fourth-grade year. There, as the only “Steve” in the classroom, I anxiously assumed the challenges and opportunities that the identity of “new kid” entailed.

This past weekend, the Central Musical Theatre production of The Most Happy Fella gleamed with unequivocal beauty. Character, appearance and identity play an important part in the story. In the play, the middle-aged Tony swaps a photograph of himself for the dashing Joe in an attempt to win the heart of young and beautiful pen pal Rosabella. The resultant confusion produces the key complication the characters must overcome to achieve a happy ending. Directed by Greg White, the visual effects of the costuming, set and lighting design dazzled with the look of early Technicolor. The choreography displayed during the expansive dance numbers sparkled like a kaleidoscopic image. Guided by our amazing vocal faculty, the singing was superb. Recognized as one of the most operatic plays from the golden age of Broadway, the score presents a unique challenge as it pinballs between Hee Haw country and Puccini-like arias. The entire student cast rose to the occasion. The soaring lead performances by Sean Steele and Sonnet Lamb swept the audience through the emotional heart of the play, while the clowning chefs, played by Caleb Barnett, Jordan Harris and Sam Brinkley, delivered welcome comedic release. Adding an additional layer of broad humor, Sierra Sikes and Dylan Herrin were delightful as displaced Texans from “Big D”. The diligent and talented students in our program truly present us with an embarrassment of riches.

Caught between our sibling, “O” schools in Stillwater and Norman, UC”O” has historically struggled with identity. We cannot hang our hats on the “Cowboy” peg, or hitch our horses to the “Sooner” wagon. Jealously coveting flagship campus funding or football programs would produce only futile inaction. In the College of Fine Arts and Design, our greatest opportunity to forge a unique identity arises when we focus on developing the strengths we already possess. We enjoy outstanding faculty who are no mere “sage on a stage” teachers. We are educator/mentors who believe in the importance of preparing our students for lives of success and service. Our pupils are frequently first-generation college students, working industriously at multiple jobs while pouring their souls into their projects, productions and performances. With those ingredients, guided by a student-centric mission statement, any of our programs can rise to elite status. If we each continue working to maximize the potential of our students, we need not worry about being the middle-child, or stepchild in Oklahoma higher education. Our identity as CFAD “1” is assured.