Thursday, May 24, 2012

IWU Alum Update: Bradley Smoak, King of Hearts

Bradley Smoak, basso
I saw Bradley Smoak back in 2005 as Officer Lockstock in IWU's "Urinetown" when he was an undergrad, and I was definitely impressed. Jean MacFarland Kerr had choreographed his big number with a hip-hop/pop-and-lock flavor and I said at the time (in my review for the Bloomington Pantagraph) that "Kerr's take on a hip-hop cop number is especially nifty as fronted by the amazing Bradley Smoak, who sizzles all night as our narrator, Officer Lockstock." That was the best "Urinetown" I've seen (yes, better than Broadway), and one of the best shows ever around Bloomington-Normal in my estimation.

Smoak graduated from Illinois Wesleyan's Music Theatre program in 2008, with credits in shows like "A Man of No Importance" and "Alison's House" as well as "Urinetown." He's done quite well for himself since then, with roles with the Sarasota, Palm Beach and Wexford Festival Operas and performances with the Boston Lyric Opera and the Oslo Domkor Concert in Norway.

After the recent performance of "Alice's Golden Hour" at IWU, a friend mentioned that the opera version of "Alice" (with music by Korean composer Unsuk Chin, who co-wrote the libretto with playwright David Henry Hwang) was being performed at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, so I took a look at information about it online. And what did I see, but Bradley Smoak's name in the cast.

 Smoak has performed before with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, singing Zuniga in "Carmen," Masetto in "Don Giovanni," and Antonio in "Le Nozze di Figaro," among other roles. Now he will be performing as the King of Hearts in their "Alice in Wonderland," in what is apparently the U.S. premiere of that opera. This Saint Louis "Alice" is conducted by Michael Christie, and stars Ashley Emerson in the title role, with Aubrey Allicock as the Mad Hatter, Tracy Dahl as the Cheshire Cat and David Trudgeon as the White Rabbit. Julie Makerov will be Smoak's Red Queen.

"Alice in Wonderland," the opera, opens June 13 at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, with performances continuing until June 23.

So there you have it -- another IWU MT alum done good.

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