Times Argus/Rutland Herald – article published Jan 1, 2015
By Patricia Minichiello
A new musical theater training program incorporates the “triple threat” of the performance world — singing, dancing and acting — for students looking for an all-in-one workshop.
Bill Reed never expected that while on a trip to London to visit his daughter, his Vermont friends and family would show up and surprise him with a 70th birthday party.
“The door bell rang, and in walked all these Vermonters,” the accomplished voice coach said during a phone interview Monday.
Reed took a break from his birthday bash overseas to talk about a program he is creating with friends and collaborators Tim and Jen Barden.
“This new class is something we’ve been wanting to do for some time,” he said. “There’s a niche for it, a lot of excellent instruction for a very reasonable fee.”
It’s called Professional Musical Theatre Training, and it incorporates the “triple threat” of the performance world — singing, dancing and acting — for musical theater students looking to find an all-in-one workshop.
Students from ages 10 to 19 can audition for the program, which is set up like a series of workshops, held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays for eight weeks in South Burlington. There will be two sessions, with the first starting Jan. 31 and the second April 4.
“When you start with kids who are 11 or 12 years old, you start from the beginning,” Reed said. By the time they graduate from high school, he added, they are ready to compete in the best college and conservatory programs out there.
Reed, who established a private voice studio in New York City and commuted every week from Chittenden County to Lincoln Center for more than 30 years, will teach the voice component of the program.
He recommended starting at age 11 so a student has fewer bad habits to break. But the good news, he said, is anyone who works at the craft can learn to carry a tune.
“Talent is a lovely thing. … But through training, difficulties can almost always be overcome.”
Facilitating the acting pieces of the program is Tim Barden, a former student of Reed’s and friend for the past 25 years. His wife, Jen, will teach the dance component.
“(Bill) and I talked about doing this for a long time,” Tim Barden said. “The stars kind of aligned a year ago, when we decided to shift focus with our dance studio to make it an all-inclusive art space.”
The Bardens own Spotlight Vermont, a dance studio in South Burlington.
“Performing is in my blood. Between my wife, myself and Bill we cover all different elements of musical theater,” Tim Barden said.
And if a student is a strong singer and actor, but not dancer, Jen Barden said she can work with those abilities and make the student feel comfortable.
“I enjoy watching people grow and develop. Each time I see them, they seem to get stronger,” she said.
As for the collaboration, she called it “a match made in heaven.”
“I think very highly of Bill Reed,” who also teaches her 14-year-old son voice lessons. “We’re really excited to bring this to the kids and elevate the level they are performing at right now,” she said.
Professional Musical Theatre Training – Vermont Musical Theatre Academy
Auditions for students ages 10 to 19 are at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Spotlight Vermont in South Burlington. Two eight-week sessions are from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays from Jan. 31 to March 28 and April 4 to May 30. Tuition for each session is $360. Apply for an audition time through the website spotlightvermont.com.