Just the return to the stage itself is a triumph for performers who
have longed to be in that setting, said Dale Schriemer, director of Grand Valley Opera Theatre.
"It's so central to who they are and what brings them joy,"
Schriemer said. "They can sing with one another, get feedback,
learn — it's so good to be in a room together."
Sondheim's work, known for its complexity, offers a particular chance
for learning. The composer's work can be intense, exploring
relationships and the human condition, he said.
"We're training them to be singing performers and Sondheim is
the gold standard for that," Schriemer said. "These are
pieces that challenge students' skills and force them to grow artistically."
Joe Mayer, who is majoring in music education with vocal emphasis
major, said the rhythmic complexities and emotions in Sondheim's
writing have beneficially stretched his abilities. He said what he is
learning in this production is helping him develop more skills for his
goal of teaching choir.
"Sondheim writes a lot about relationships and a lot about
subtle themes. As a musician and as an actor, there's a lot of weight
to carrying those subtle themes," Mayer said. "Other musical
writers might say, 'This is a love song,' and then it's very easy to
sing about love. With Sondheim there's so much complexity: 'Now I'm in
love, now I'm in turmoil' and it's all in the same four measures."