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Members of Showtime, East Central University's music theatre ensemble, will present a mock master class at 8 tonight [MARCH 25] as they prepare for three master classes in New York City with New York University and Julliard School professionals.

Showtime, under the direction of Patrick F. Sweet, has been offered the opportunity to study in New York from March 30 to April 4.

The students will perform their ensemble piece from "Steam Heat" tonight, and as many as seven musical theatre soloists will sing from both vintage and current musicals for about 35 minutes. The performance is free, but donations are welcome. The group still needs to raise nearly $3,000 out of the $8,000 it needs to cover lodging, travel and clinician and workshop fees. Students will pay individually for their meals, local transportation and other necessities.

Sweet, who also is ECU's director of music theatre, is a graduate of NYU. His networking created the opportunity to set up the study program.

"While studying in New York, I met and studied with individuals such as professors who worked with the Metropolitan Opera or were Tony-nominated actors who worked with such celebrities as Julie Andrews, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Burton and others, including the current opera studies director at the Julliard School," Sweet said, "I want to expose Showtime to the opportunities and resources I received as a student of the art."

"We need all the help we can get," said Natalie May, Prague junior and Showtime president. "Showtime will be representing not only East Central University in New York, but our Ada community as well. We are proud to be part of this university and community, and we hope to make you proud of us."

The group will study with professional actors and musicians such as Michael Ricciardone, assistant coordinator of vocal studies at the Steinhardt School at NYU. The master classes will be taught by members of NYU's performance studies faculty.

"From Jamaica to Ada, to New York City is in itself an out-of-the-world experience," said Jomain McKenzie, a senior from Clarendon, Jamaica. "I'm like a sponge -- ready to absorb all I can from these exceptionally talented and accomplished professionals."

For many of the students, this will be their first time in New York City and even outside Oklahoma.

"Getting this chance to go to New York feels like a dream. God is amazing," said Showtime member Lesley Walker, an Ada senior.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," added sophomore Lacee Elliot of Davis.

Joseph Terrell, Elmore City junior, shared the sentiments of his cast members.

"If you're from a small town, you'd never really expect this kind of opportunity to happen. I mean, we didn't even have choir or any type of music or theatre program besides band at my high school," Terrell said.

Other members of Showtime are Ryan Corley, Shawnee junior; Lynette Christy, Ada junior; Randi Hall, Ada senior; Christopher Geisler, Ada senior; Kendra Camplain, Ringling sophomore; Heath Holt, Ada freshman; Laura Knight, Ada sophomore; Leah Creason, Ada junior; and Derek Reed, Pauls Valley freshman.

Donations can be made by contacting Patrick Sweet at or 580-599-5756 or the ECU Foundation Inc. at 580-559-5514.

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