In 2007, I reviewed my first senior showcase at Jacksonville University. These are recitals by university seniors in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree in the performing arts. As the name implies, the students are showcasing skills acquired in their chosen field of study. My reason for choosing to write about the achievements of the students is that I have had the opportunity and the pleasure of seeing them perform on both JU and community theatre stages.

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Harrison Breault, Tenor presented his showcase on April 12th, 2017 in JU’s Black Box Theatre, which was filled with an enthusiastic audience. He is a student of Dr. Jay Ivey, and was accompanied by Stephen Fennell, Pianist. Additional musicians included Jade Martin, Bass; Aaron Jennings, Drums; and Brooks Clarke, Guitar.

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I first saw Harrison in performance at Players by the Sea’s production of “Aida,” where he brilliantly portrayed the scheming Zoser. I also enjoyed his considerable talents on JU’s stage in “Children of Eden” and as the Sheriff in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

The first act of his showcase was an education for me and others in the audience, as he sang songs from musicals that have not been staged previously in Jacksonville. These songs included “Beautiful Girls,” from “Follies;” “And They’re Off,” from “A New Brain;“ and “Wondering” from “Bridges of Madison County.” More familiar was “If I Didn’t Believe in You,” from “The Last Five Years.” And to the delight of the crowd, Harrison displayed his marvelous operatic voice with “Nessun dorma,” from Puccini’s “Turandot,” which brought prolonged applause.

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Harrison said his parents bought him a guitar and a piano as a child which resulted in his keen interest in music. He plays both instruments well, and sang and played the guitar in “Sarah Jane” from “37 Notebooks.”

The second act included “Almost Like Being in Love” from “Brigadoon” followed by “A Man Could Go Quite Mad,” from “The Mystery of Edwin Drood, where he was joined by soprano Charly Anne Roper.   

The largest production number of the showcase featured Harrison on the piano singing “Desperado,” with backup vocals by Loic Adkjevi, Sharbill Assi, Pauline Angelica Acedera, Josh Kusmierz, Isbella Martinez, Cedric Mitchell and Charly Anne Roper.

The concluding number was “Waving Through a Window,” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” a contemporary musical which recently opened on Broadway. 

I don’t what Harrison’s plans are for the future but most likely they include a professional career in theatre or opera. Wherever life’s journey takes him it has been a pleasure to experience his musical and dramatic talents on our local stages. Best wishes in all your future endeavors.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.