Acclaimed Broadway actress Barrett Wilbert Weed visited a Zoom on Friday, Feb. 26, at 5:00 pm as a part of the Broadway @ KO program in order to coach three select students on their singing and acting abilities.
These three students were given the opportunity to sing for and receive feedback from Ms. Weed within a one-hour period. Each student performed a rehearsed song, received feedback, and then performed the number again. Students received critique on both their vocal technique and their acting technique. For example one student was instructed to dance throughout their whole song and another to incorporate a personal experience to become a better storyteller. After the Zoom meeting, senior Braeden Rose received a 30-minute private lesson with Ms. Weed.
Ms. Weed is a well-known actress and singer; her most notable roles were Veronica Sawyer in “Heathers: The Musical” off-Broadway and Janis Sarkisian in “Mean Girls” on Broadway. She won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical in 2016 for her role as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” and is currently cast as Lizzie Pagnetti, a recurring character in the Epix television series “Bridge and Tunnel.”
Students were thrilled that Barrett was visiting Broadway @ KO. “I was in shock because I love all the work that she’s done in ‘Heathers’ and ‘Mean Girls,’” said sophomore Faith Potter. “She’s been so many leads and in so many Broadway shows.” Braeden agreed. “Mr. Reynolds knew that I loved her from that, and so when I heard that she was coming I was ecstatic,” he said.
Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds started Broadway @ KO in 2019 to connect students to Broadway and took advantage of this pandemic year to explore new opportunities. “I wanted to make sure I could still do something really special for the kids and thought enhancing our Broadway @ KO program was the way to do that,” he said. “So each week, we have one or two Broadway stars come to us virtually, and the students perform for their feedback.”
Faith was one of three students to perform for Ms. Weed; she sang “Lost in the Brass” from the musical “Band Geeks.” She said she appreciated the advice Ms. Weed gave on her performance. “I did make a list of things that she told me to work on,” she said, “but getting live feedback, it was really helpful to me.”
After starting in last year’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Braeden intended to sign up for the musical this winter, however, due to the cancellation, he signed up for the Broadway @ KO program instead. Familiar with both the program and musical, he noted the difference in the amount of time and energy devoted to each. “I think the idea was that this would kind of replace it,” he said. “I think in terms of the level of work put into it, it’s not nearly the same, but it’s a nice alternative for all the people that would’ve been in the musical, and it’s still a nice treat.”
Other stars who have visited through the Broadway @ KO program include Christy Altomare, Shoshana Bean, Eva Noblezada, Kate Baldwin, and Chris Fitzgerald. Though Ms. Weed is the last guest in the 2020 – 2021 school year, the program will continue in the following year.