Denison offers many great opportunities for students who love music — even if they are not music majors.
For example, Sam Fujikawa ’22 and Meg Odell ’19 won awards at the recent National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition at Cedarville University in October 2018. This was the third time Odell placed in the competition, and Fujikawa’s first time at the event. Fujikawa placed second in the lower music theatre category and Odell placed third in the upper musical theatre category, both are students of Belinda Andrews-Smith, coordinator of vocal studies and the director of Singer’s Theatre Workshop.
For Odell, a theatre major and music and educational studies minor, Andrews-Smith has played a big role in her Denison career. “During the past three and a half years, Belinda has served as my director, professor, mentor, and biggest supporter at Denison. She has single-handedly helped me navigate the trajectory of my career path, and has given me the confidence and skill set to pursue musical theatre professionally after college.”
Odell met Andrews-Smith her first year at Denison, when she was cast as Cinderella in the Singer’s Theatre Workshop (STW) production of Into the Woods. “Belinda’s training has helped me achieve many of my goals, including performing in some of my dream roles in the STW productions and competing at regional and national singing competitions around the nation. We meet at least one hour every week to work on my vocal technique, find new repertoire, and prepare for upcoming auditions.”
Andrews-Smith supported Odell last year throughout the audition and callback process for her first professional theatre production in Ohio, the Regional Premier of Fun Home with CATCO in Columbus, where Odell was cast in the role of Medium Alison. “She guided me through applying to Unified Theatre Auditions all over the country shortly after Fun Home and again this year for the upcoming Unified audition season, even preparing me for my first audition in front of Broadway casting directors.”
Andrews-Smith appreciates talent, enthusiasm and a good work ethic. “Meg and I have travelled the country together to attend the multiple singing competitions that she has won. She is an exceptional singer/actor/dancer and guiding her has enriched my life in so many ways. I have had the great privilege of directing her in Singer’s Theatre for four years and I can’t wait to see her on the Broadway stage someday.”
Fujikawa’s older brother, Chris Fujikawa ‘19, has had leading roles in Singer’s Theatre since his freshman year, which led to a fortuitous meeting. “I met Sam multiple times when he was in high school watching his brother perform. Sam was accepted at Vassar but deferred a year while he thought about not being on the stage. Sam decided to enroll at Denison and be a part of Singer’s Theatre. I am humbled by stories like these and so blessed to mentor such amazing students.”
“I had a great time competing at NATS,” said Fujikawa, an English major and music performance minor. “I credit Belinda for so much; without her, I would not have had the technique, skill, or guidance that allowed me to place. She has taught me so much in such a short time and I am so grateful that she allowed me to represent Denison at NATS.”