Stage Presence


The MCLA Quartet (l-r), Meghan Gleason '12, Jessica Jean-Charles '13, Laura Gibson '10, and Megan Tainter '10, opened the evening for Donna McKechnie at the College's 115th anniversary celebration. 


A group of vocal students had the experience of a lifetime being coached by Tony Award-winning singer and Broadway star Donna McKechnie. At MCLA to perform at the College's 115th anniversary celebration last month, the former star of A Chorus Line took some time out to work individually with these students, helping them to discover the emotions and feelings they need to improve their performances.

According to their voice instructor, Kathleen Carbone, the experience was transformative.

Kat Sanford '10 sang "On My Own" from Les Miserables. "She had an epiphany," says Carbone. "She really started to cry because Donna asked what she thought the song was about. Kat started singing this song and started to sob and cry because she was absolutely feeling the lyrics and feeling the character that she was singing for. When she performed in our December 1st recital, Kat sang the song exactly like she did in the master class. Her peers and the audience said that they had never seen such emotion from a young woman. It was incredible. You actually felt what she was singing."

Jessica Jean-Charles '13 of Pawtucket, RI, found the master class to be extremely helpful.

"I'd been taking voice lessons for a while but it was mostly technique. McKechnie focused on how to put emotions across and make the notes change to express what the character was feeling," she explains.

Like Jean-Charles, Conor Moroney '10 of Wilmington, MA, wants a professional singing career and to be on the stage.

"He has a beautiful, huge bass voice," says Carbone. "When my students introduced themselves to Donna, she said to him, 'I can't wait to hear you sing.' He got up and sang 'If I Were a Rich Man.' He already is a wonderful actor and, with her guidance, he was so funny. You could just picture him on the stage in New York City in a solo performance. He had her laughing."

Meghan Gleason '12 of Shirley, MA, says she was thrilled to have the Broadway star work with her.

"She had us do an acting exercise before we all performed our songs. We looked into the meaning of the songs, and what they mean to us personally," Gleason says. "We took emotion from our own lives and put it into the song. I had put emotion into songs before, but she had us pull real emotion and it really affected how we performed. I didn't know how much it would impact the performance, but it really did."

Later, Gleason, Jean-Charles, Laura Gibson '10 of Hampstead, NH, and Megan Tainter '10 of Billerica, MA, opened the evening for McKechnie at her MCLA performance.

"They were fantastic. You could hear a pin drop. The students were so good that some people had their mouths open," says Carbone. "They acted and sang professionally. They were right on top of their craft that night. I think a bit of what they learned in that master class transferred into the evening. I have never been so proud in my entire life. They put 150% into this and it showed."

For information on upcoming performances at MCLA, visit presents.