Although the Winter Musical has come and gone, the theater department continues to razzle dazzle the KO community by providing new opportunities for students interested in the performing arts. Just this past month, Broadway star, Ben Fankhauser, visited campus to teach a master class.
Born in Switzerland and raised in Ohio, Mr. Fankhauser fell in love with music and acting at a young age. He attended Ithaca College but left midway through his studies when he booked the national tour of Broadway’s “Spring Awakening.” After the tour, Mr. Fankhauser returned to school and graduated with a BFA in Musical Theater. Upon graduating in 2011, he earned a lead role in the Broadway production of “Newsies” and proceeded to pursue that role for three years. Currently, Mr. Fankhauser is performing in “The Flamingo Boy” at Hartford Stage.
Director of the Theater Department Kyle Reynolds met Mr. Fankhauser through a friend and thought it would be a great idea to invite him to KO. “He was stoked to come work with our students,” Mr. Reynolds said. “I am so lucky to have made the connections that I have made throughout my lifetime.”
Mr. Fankhauser led KO students through a variety of exercises and activities that were both challenging and inspiring. Prior to the class, each student prepared a part of a song to perform for Fankhauser. Specifically, Mr. Fankhauser focused on critiquing stage presence and vocal technique.
Junior Jacqui Ouellette explained that her favorite part of the class was working with him one on one. “Getting feedback was really cool because he had so much insight, and I felt like I really improved,” Jacqui said. Not only is Mr. Fankhauser a talented actor; he is also an incredible teacher. His ability to give kind, yet honest critiques allowed him to establish meaningful relationships with KO students. “He was very encouraging and gave valuable advice on how to reach our goals,” junior Remy McCoy said.
Mr. Reynolds said he agreed, describing the class as wildly successful and life-changing. “He challenged our students to think outside the box, trust themselves, listen to the lyrics, use physical shapes to nourish the storytelling, and more,” he said. Between Deidre Goodwin’s visit to KO in the winter and Mr. Fankhauser’s recent master class, it has certainly been a superb year for the theater department.
Mr. Reynolds said he hopes to continue these programs in the future, as he plans to invite at least two or three professionals to campus each year. “Spread the word,” he said. “Kingswood Oxford is slowly but surely becoming an artistic destination for students passionate about the craft of musical theater.”