Kean University theatre students get private viewing of
Chita & Tune, Just in Time
UNION, N.J. – Broadway legends Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune kicked off the Kean Stage 2017-2018 season with the world premiere of Chita and Tune, Just in Time at Kean University’s Enlow Recital Hall on Saturday, September 16. A group of Kean University theatre students were welcomed for a private audience at the final dress rehearsal and had an opportunity to speak with the show’s director and choreographer, Graciela Daniele, a 10-time Tony Award nominee and Theater Hall of Fame inductee.
Sitting in the balcony, the students erupted into applause after each song, demonstrating an enthusiasm that Tune acknowledged from the stage.
“I love our balcony audience. Would you come back tonight and every night?” he told the students.
After the performance, Daniele met with the students to get feedback. They listened attentively as she gave words of gratitude and advice from her 70 years of experience in the theatre.
“For you to see performers like Chita and Tommy, it is a history lesson in the musical theatre,” said Daniele. “These two people have been in the theatre forever. They have just three musicians, a very limited amount of light, and one costume change at the end, but they gave you an hour and a half of storytelling.”
“One of the thrills when I got to Kean a year and a half ago was to be able to bring some wonderful artists to our stages, and I think tonight is exceptional,” said Steve Cochran, manager of Kean Stage.
This is the latest example of Kean students having the opportunity to work with, learn from or closely observe professional performers. In the last year, they have performed onstage with a number of artists, including Broadway’s Patti LuPone, folk music’s Judy Collins and Michael Mao Dance. In the next few months, students will perform with classical crossover ensemble Sons of Serendip and Heidi Latsky Dance. In addition, they will have master classes and workshops with Spanish guitar virtuoso Pablo Sáinz Villegas, Academy Award-nominated percussionist Antonio Sánchez and classical violinist Yevgeny Kutik, who will also give a lecture-performance at the Kean University Human Rights Institute.
The access to Rivera and Tune’s rehearsal process reinforced what the students are learning in their theatre classes.
“I think it’s beneficial to watch dress rehearsals. Especially as students, because you can see similarities in your performance. We see that professionals do what we do,” said Brianna Javis of Union, a senior theatre performance major.
A few hours after the rehearsal came the premiere of Chita & Tune. The two Broadway icons, who have 12 Tony Awards between them, dazzled the Enlow Hall audience, with songs from West Side Story, Chicago, and other Broadway hit shows. They would return the next day for their second performance.
“We just feel so welcomed. This really was our world premiere,” said Tune. “You are the first people to have ever seen it.”
Rivera and Tune spoke with members of the audience at a VIP meet and greet after the premiere.
ABOUT KEAN UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving nearly 15,000 students. The University’s five undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers four doctoral degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union and Toms River, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education. Visit www.kean.edu.
ABOUT KEAN STAGE
Kean Stage at Kean University educates, entertains and challenges audiences by presenting high-quality programs that reflect the diversity of the region and of the arts. These cultural offerings complement the intellectual life of the classroom for our students, increase opportunities for community engagement, and provide affordable access to the arts for New Jersey residents. Audiences of all ages are invited to enjoy a wide range of professional theatre, Broadway tours, dance performances, concerts, international films and family-friendly shows. In addition, Kean Stage encourages University students to attend events, and provides several options to explore the performing arts through master classes, workshops, lectures, employment opportunities as ushers, backstage technicians and box office staff. Visit www.keanstage.com