by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
On Sunday April 29, 2012, the Dual Critics saw one of the final Senior Showcase presentations at Terry Hall on the campus of Jacksonville University. We have followed the career of tenor Ross Frontz on the JU stage in several shows. We also were privileged to review his work at Players by the Sea in the leading role in “Tommy,” for which he received a Pelican Awards nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.
Ross is a native of Jacksonville and attended high school at Trinity Academy, then went on to what is now FSCJ. While he did not appear in plays there, he did take an acting course. His musical career really took off when he entered JU. In his first appearance in a musical, he played the role of Lynn McNutt in “Oklahoma.” His other JU musicals included “Ragtime,” “Chess,” “The Apple Tree,” and “Rhythm of Life.” His final show was the highly acclaimed musical version of “Little Women” and his performance as Laurie earned him an award from Broadwayworld.com in 2011 as Best Younger Actor (under age 25) in a Musical.
Ross Frontz’s showcase did not have a stated theme as many showcases do. The first half of his show stressed simplicity. Ross dressed in typical casual student attire and used simple staging, placing the emphasis on his voice. The highlights of this segment included “There’s a World” from “Next to Normal,” and a fabulous rendition of one of our favorites, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” from “Stop The World I Want to Get Off.” Nikki Spies, whose showcase we featured recently in Entertaining U, joined in on two songs, “All I Need is the Girl,” from “Gypsy “and “Seven Wonders” from “Catch Me If You Can.” Stephen Michael Johns, another JU music major, joined Frontz in a captivating duet, the beautiful “Lily’s Eyes” from “The Secret Garden.” He closed the first half, accompanied by Ms. Spies and Mr. Johns, with “Those You’ve Known” from “Spring Awakening.”
After a brief intermission, Ross returned dressed a bit more formally in a black tie, shirt, vest and slacks. His opening selection was one we had never heard: “Once Upon a Time,” from “Bare: A Pop Opera,” which he sang in a delightful lower register.
The showcases always include opera selections. Ross sang three selections during the evening, and gave us a fine sample of his vocal volume and control.
He dedicated several songs to family members. Jet Thomas, another fellow JU student, joined in him in “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” a very humorous selection from “Annie Get Your Gun,” which he dedicated to his sister Addyson Frontz. Music major Alex Rodriquez joined him in a moving and emotional duet “Boys” from “Glory Days,” dedicated to his brother Ryan Frontz. The poignant “You Raise Me Up” was dedicated to his parents Robin and April Frontz, who were sitting in the front row.
The last part of the evening found Ross attired in gray sharkskin suit and a shirt with an open collar, and as with all the showcases we’ve seen, included a multi-media display with photos. In his, Ross included a number of hilarious snapshots that showed his sense of humor. The two final selections were both upbeat: “Who I’d Be” from “Shrek” and “Electricity” from “Billy Elliot.” The evening was truly entertaining, and interspersed throughout with well-deserved applause.
In our review of Ross in the role of “Tommy” we praised him for his excellent voice and charismatic portrayal of the character. Ross Frontz has an infectious smile and relates well to an audience, which combined with his musical talent points to a bright future should he make show business his choice of a career.
ROSS FRONTZ, TENOR
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM