Cincinnati Magazine: CCM alums give their regards to Broadway

Alumni discuss the highlights and challenges of their careers in theatre with Cincinnati Magazine

CCM Musical Theatre alumni Sharon Wheatley (BFA, '90), Nikki Renee Daniels (BFA, ‘01), Alysha Deslorieux (BFA, ‘12), Betsy Wolfe (BFA, ‘04), Max Clayton (BFA, ‘14), Scott Coulter (BFA, ‘93), Gary Cooper (BFA, ‘17) and Aria Braswell (BFA, ‘19) spoke with Cincinnati Magazine about their success on and off Broadway and lessons they still carry with them from CCM. Read the full story.

Cincinnati Magazine illustration by Aurelie Maron.

Cincinnati Magazine illustration by Aurelie Maron.

Shortly before her graduation in 1990, Sharon Wheatley joined the national tour of the Sound of Music and later played roles in tours and Broadway productions of CatsPhantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. Most recently, she originated the role of Diane in the Tony Award-winning production of Come From Away. She discusses the obstacles of the pandemic and returning to Cincinnati with her family when Broadway shut down in March 2020. During the pandemic she wrote her second memoir, Drive: Stories from Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere, and performed in an Emmy Award-winning film version of Come From Away.

Wheatley attended CCM prior to the college's Musical Theatre Senior Showcase — an opportunity for the senior class to perform for agents, casting directors and producers in New York — but it earned Scott Coulter his big break. Coulter performed in the inaugural showcase in 1993, landing a role in the national tour of Forever Plaid. Nikki Renee Daniels found similar success at her showcase, immediately booking the understudy for the title role of Elton John’s Aida on Broadway. Her career now spans over two decades, singing principal roles in Porgy and BessBook of MormonHamilton, and now the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company on Broadway.

Cincinnati Magazine writer Rick Pender spoke to multiple alums including Betsy Wolfe, who performed in a modernized video retelling of A Christmas Carol titled Estella Scrooge during the pandemic; and Alysha Deslorieux, who has performed in Sister ActHamilton and in Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Hulu's Only Murders in the Building. Pender also caught up with Max Clayton, who recently stood in for Hugh Jackman during performances of The Music Man revival; Gary Cooper, who played roles in Broadway's Aladdin and Chicago, and is now exploring theatre and the dance music industry in New York; and Aria Braswell, who has performed in Oklahoma and Flying Over Sunset and is now writing, composing and recording music.

Among their lists of accomplishments, the group reflected on their experience at CCM and their time learning from longtime Musical Theatre Chair Aubrey Berg, who retired in 2019 after holding the postition for 32 years. Pender writes that Berg "taught them that successful performers must simultaneously perfect the voice, the body, the head, and the heart. 'The greatest gift actors can bestow on their characters,' [Berg] says via e-mail, recalling his advice to students, 'is the use of their voices and bodies to express what lies in the characters’ hearts and minds.' "

Read more about each alum in Pender's full story via Cincinnati Magazine.

Headshot of Jaime Sharp

Jaime Sharp

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Jaime Sharp is a master's student studying Vocal Performance at CCM. She serves as the Vice President of the CCM Graduate Student Association and Student Liaison for the CCM DEI Committee. Jaime holds a bachelor's from the University of Michigan.

Featured image at the top: Cincinnati Magazine illustration by Aurelie Maron.

Additional Contacts

Curt Whitacre | Director of Marketing/Communications | UC College-Conservatory of Music

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