(WFRV) – Singing in front of a crowd can be terrifying for some people, but for these High School students – they want to do just that. Thankfully, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC) has them covered.

The Fox Cities PAC held its first Center Stage workshop of the season Thursday. The theme? The classic musical Wicked.

Students were able to participate in a zoom call with a seasoned Wicked performer, David Scott Purdy, who first became a part of the show in 2019. Purdy is a singer and acts as a partial swing in the musical.

David Scott Purdy

What is a partial swing? A swing is someone who goes on stage if someone in the ensemble is unable to do so. Purdy says he also covers multiple roles in the production, such as Doctor Dillamond and the Wizard.

During the workshop, students were able to sing a few notes of a song in the Zoom call and Purdy would critique. A student in the workshop, New London senior Baily Polsin, says Purdy taught them some helpful techniques. “And he really critiqued – good criticism – about different vocal techniques you can use throughout an audition and how that’s really important if you want to actually get the role you’re auditioning for.”

Jacob Massart, a senior from Notre Dame Academy, says this is his first year in Center Stage but he’s already noticed the program is pretty expansive. “Just in these first couple months I’m hearing about all these different schools and their shows and knowing that there’s so much more in Wisconsin and High School theater and communities. It’s kind of eye-opening to know that there’s so many other people that share and love this passion, too.”

Bailey Polsin

Local 5 was able to sit down with both Polsin and Massart to get their thoughts after the workshop. Polsin says this is her second year with the program and she’s happy it’s back. “I really think that Center Stage is a great way to be involved in not only your own community, like where you go to High School, but I think it’s cool to just see all these different schools come together and just to be a part of something way bigger than just yourself and your community,” explained Polsin.

Polsin adds that her favorite part of the program so far was during an Ambassador meeting. “When we got a tour of the PAC and we walked from the backstage and onto the stage and saw all the seats and everything. It was just crazy to see and it made me – it made my heart pound a little harder because I was so excited to see this.”

Students are able to learn about some of the skills people utilize while producing a production through the program. “Especially with all these shows that are touring to the PAC this season, it kind of gives us, as students, a lot of opportunities to see the community of musical theater and theater in general and that when these big names and shows come to us and that they offer us these opportunities – it’s kind of like a once in a lifetime,” added Massart. “You really want to grab ahold of it.”

Jacob Massart

“It’s a very unique experience because I’d never knew anything like this before I joined and being in it really shows you a whole different perspective of advertisement, theater, journalism, and stuff like that,” explained Polsin. “And it’s really cool to show other kids in my school that aren’t in it because most people aren’t – there’s only one other girl in my school that’s a part of this as well – and we both just think it’s crazy how much we learn just from coming to meetings and showing up and being a part, like really being a part, of a theater community.”

As for the workshop itself, both students agreed everything they learned Thursday will help in the future. “I’m probably going to use the tips that he gave us for solo and ensemble singing mostly because that’s about the next thing that we’re going to be starting for choir, at least. And I’m really excited for that because most solo and ensemble musical numbers are usually very re-telly and that will be very fun to portray,” said Polsin.

“I think a really big thing – factor – that went into everyone that participated with singing was the effect of the storytelling and finding the deeper connections with your lyrics and different parts that help you build tension or create that sort of character and the depths to storytelling and it’s so much more than just singing the right notes,” added Massart. “Center Stage is really an impactful organization that is giving students in Wisconsin a lot of great opportunities that we should want to make sure that we can take a hold of.”