on image for publication quality photo
REHEARSING FOR “NIGHT MUSIC”
– Southeastern Louisiana University music professor Scharmal Schrock, standing,
rehearses her song, “Liaisons,” from “A Little Night Music” with Opera/Music
Theatre Workshop director Charles Effler. Schrock, former director of the
university’s opera-music theater program, will appear in the Oct. 12-15
musical at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium in the role of Madame Armfeldt.
Although she produced dozens of shows and performed frequently in concerts
during her more than two decades at Southeastern, this is only the second
time that Schrock has been cast in an Opera/Music Theatre Workshop show.
SCHROCK BACK ON STAGE FOR FANFARE'S
“A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC”
HAMMOND – For more than two decades,
Scharmal Schrock’s name has been synonymous with opera and musicals at
Southeastern Louisiana University. As director of the university’s highly
praised Opera/Music Theatre Workshop, she produced one hit show after another.
But it has also been more than 20 years
since Schrock has personally taken on a role. She has not been cast in
an Opera/Music Theatre show since 1983, when in her early days at Southeastern
she played the mother in the holiday season favorite “Ahmal and the Night
So, it will be a rare treat for her
– and for audiences – when Schrock appears as Madame Armfeldt, the formidable,
sophisticated former mistress to the rich and famous, in Stephen Sondheim’s
“A Little Night Music.”
The Opera/Music Theatre Workshop’s
contribution to Fanfare, “A Little Night Music” will run Oct. 12-15 at
the Pottle Music Building Auditorium. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.
Charles Effler, who succeeded Schrock
as Opera/Music Theatre Workshop director two years ago, did not have to
coax her into playing Madame Armfeldt.
“It’s just a fabulously rich role,”
Schrock said. “In the Broadway repertoire, it is one of my absolute favorites.
Madame Armfeldt is a really wonderful, somewhat zany character. She has
some wonderful lines, such as, ‘To lose a lover or a husband or two can
be vexing, but to lose one’s teeth is a catastrophe.’ She plays solitaire,
smokes cigarettes, drinks a lot of champagne – and she dies in the end.”
“I wanted to do it. I don’t know why!”
Schrock laughed. “It’s not a good time in my life to do something like
That’s because Schrock currently is
hobbled by a hip problem. Madame Armfeldt is doable for her, however, because
she plays the elderly character as wheelchair-bound. The role is less of
a good fit vocally. Schrock is a soprano, but Madame Armfeldt’s solo, “Liaisons,”
is written for a contralto. Adjusting her voice to the notes has been just
one of her on stage challenges, Schrock said.
Although she has performed many times
over the last 20 years with orchestras such as the New Orleans and Baton
Rouge symphonies, “I haven’t memorized for a lot of years, so I had to
get those skills going,” Schrock said. “The first rehearsal when we put
down the script was a little traumatic. I felt so insecure. So, I finally
recorded my lines and discovered that I was singing them -- I was sustaining
vowels and sing-songing them! It was not something I would let anyone do
if I was directing.”
Effler said that seeing their veteran
professor encounter and meet challenges – “That she’s not always ‘Holy
Miss Schrock who’s always perfect,’” he said, jokingly -- has been a wonderful
example for the student cast.
“For them to see her sometimes deal
with the same problems they have is excellent,” Effler said. “Stage fright,
memory slips, problems memorizing huge chunks of music never go away, no
matter how good you are or how far you rise in the ranks of performing.
It’s part of music school, it’s part of the job.”
Many of the cast members are also Schrock’s
pupils. As a cast mate, “I’m trying to be very, very careful to not let
them think that I’m judging everything they’re doing while they’re on stage,”
she said. Yet, as a voice professor, she also works with them in individual
lessons. “I’m trying to balance that and keep my mouth shut,” she laughed.
Schrock and Effler agree that the “A
Little Night Music,” which is directed by Larry Gray, is shaping up into
a wonderful show.
Heady, civilized, sophisticated and
enchanting, “A Little Night Music” is set in Sweden's turn-of-the-century
well-to-do society. It features a score of memorable waltzes with breathtaking,
sassy lyrics, most notably “Send in the Clowns.”
“A Little Night Music” tells the story
of the middle-aged actress Desiree Armfeldt, who rekindles an affair with
her former lover, now married to a dizzy wife half his age. Meanwhile,
Desirée's jealous current lover has an acerbic wife of his own to
contend with. Rounding out the unforgettable cast along with Schrock’s
classy, elderly courtesan Madame Armfeldt are a divinity student in love
with his own stepmother, an on-the-make housemaid, and an illegitimate
daughter who asks too many questions.
“It’s quite different,” Effler said.
“It’s almost like an operetta because the music is so difficult to learn,
although it is not difficult to listen to. The students are learning techniques
they will use later on in operetta and opera singing. That’s one of the
reasons I chose to do it – besides the fact that I’ve been in love with
it for 20-something years.
“I think the audience will love it
– and the cast is enjoying it, too,” Effler said.
“I’m having a great time,” Schrock
Tickets for “A Little Night Music”
are $12, adults; $8 senior citizens, non-Southeastern students and Southeastern
faculty, staff and alumni. The musical is free for Southeastern students.
Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing
Arts box office, 220 E. Thomas St., 985-543-4371, and will also be available
at the door.