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Summer Music Programs Get International Attention

People from all over the world aspire to become Broadway superstars, and a musical theater summer program at Oklahoma City University is proof of the school’s international appeal with a set of twins attending from Izmir, Turkey.

The 17-year-old sisters, Deniz and Selen Amado, travelled the approximately 6,000 miles from the west coast of the Aegean Sea to Oklahoma just to participate in OCU’s Performing Arts Academy.

They’re so busy learning the crafts of music, dance and acting that they won’t be sightseeing while they’re here — the singular purpose of their trip is to hone their talents in hopes of professional careers in show business.

“We get started at 8 in the morning with breakfast every day, and end with rehearsals in the evening,” Selen said. “We’re in classes the entire rest of the day.”

The program concludes with the public production they’ve worked on for three weeks, “Les Miserables,” in the university’s historic Kirkpatrick Theater July 27 and 28.

JoBeth Moad, director of OCU’s Performing Arts Academy, said the program’s reputation has been spreading via word of mouth to instructors across the world during its 12-year history. A student from Venezuela attended last year, and Canadians have been coming on a regular basis the past few years.

“We do very little marketing,” Moad said. “Teachers from all over just hear about what a great job we do working with the students. The results do the advertising for us.”

For Selen and Deniz, their music teacher in Turkey had a friend who once lived near Oklahoma City who mentioned the program.

Selen, who plays piano, and Deniz, the guitar and piano, are both learning other performing arts during the three-week intensive program.

Mornings are spent in classrooms learning dance, music theater repertoire, performance and acting. In the afternoons, students are in master classes for audition preparation, vocal health, musical theater history, monologue preparation and voice instruction. They spend their evenings rehearsing for the program’s production finale.

The learning continues on weekends with “Saturday Electives,” where students can choose niche workshops like stage combat, career preparation or other subjects. Classes are taught by OCU faculty in what Moad calls the “mini OCU experience.”

“We have a stellar reputation in the performing arts world, and these pre-college students get a sampling of our educational quality,” she said.

Students must audition to get into the Performing Arts Academy via DVD recordings and portfolios, and then audition for parts in the program’s final production after they arrive.

Oklahoma City University’s Performing Arts Academy has classes for junior high and high school students and has three options of duration — two weeks, three weeks or five weeks. Students reside in the college dorms during the program under close supervision.

Show times for “Les Miserables” are 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 27 and 28 in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center, located at Blackwelder Avenue and N.W. 25th Street. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Group rates are also available.

For more information about the academy or to purchase tickets, call (405) 208-5410 or visit the Performing Arts Academy page at www.okcu.edu/music.