A Monster Talent

Img 0388I first discovered the amazing voice and talent of Rebecca Hadley Hunt in a production of Avenue Q at StageWest a few years ago. In a stellar production of some of the best of local theatre, her performance of Kate Monster was still a standout. She'll be appearing this Saturday as the monthly guest artist for Noce's Late-Nite Cabaret (and she's bringing along a couple of terrific fellow performers with her....)
Rebecca is a native of the Des Moines area, and started performing at an early age. "I feel like I grew up at the Des Moines Playhouse and in the Des Moines Childrens Choir," says Rebecca. "I started taking voice lessons in middle school, and in high school studied with Leann Freeman-Miller at Drake. There was never a time I contemplated another profession besides performance."
 
"My degree is a B.F.A. in vocal performance, and at Carnegie Mellon, the voice majors take acting and dance for 3-4 years, so it really is a fine arts degree as opposed to just a bachelor's in music. I feel like I got well-rounded training to be successful in musical theatre or opera. And at CMU, the undergraduates perform in all the shows, so that was very appealing and critical to my training."
 
For Now
 
Saturday's performance at Noce means Rebecca gets to perform some of her favorites, both theatre-related songs and also some jazz and contemporary pieces. "My favorite music theatre composers are Sondheim and Bernstein. Their music is so complex and riveting.  I also love singing music by Rogers & Hammerstein, Cole Porter, and Jason Robert Brown."
 
"For the cabaret I chose music from roles that I've always wanted to sing, or has sentimental value to me. I also wanted a variety to keep the audience entertained and appeal to various tastes."
 
Local favorites Zander Morales and Charlie Reese will also be joining Rebecca on stage. As Rebecca relates, "I thought sharing the stage would provide more pizzazz in the show and for the audience. I'm singing a variety of music, and it seemed appropriate to also add a variety of performers to compliment my selections!"
 
"I sang with Zander in the new musical 'Holloway, the Musical' and thought of him immediately for the cabaret. He then asked Charlie to sing a duet with him, and I couldn't be more excited that Charlie will be with us!" 
 
(That production of "Holloway" ended up being on the regular season schedule for Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City, where Rebecca sang in a venue noted for presenting broadway caliber performers on a regular basis.)
 
 
Special
 
Rebecca is a memorable and talented performer. I asked Charlie Reese about her, since he performed opposite her as Princeton to her Kate Monster in the Avenue Q show from StageWest.
 
"I've actually known Rebecca since the Des Moines Playhouse's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the 2002-2003 season. When we were both cast in Avenue Q, I immediately knew that was going to be a really fun show. She was an amazing stage partner, so thoughtful and giving in each scene."
 
"Rebecca has an AMAZING voice, and I'm so happy that she's been given this opportunity to share her talents. Anyone who may or may not know her will totally want to catch her cabaret!"
 
Purpose
 
Rebecca hasn't been as regular on the Des Moines theatre scene recently as some local favorites, but that's because she's found another purpose to live for in addition to performance.
 
"I thought about staying at CMU (in Pittsburgh) to start my Master's in vocal performance, but my heart was being pulled in another direction. I was ready to come back to Des Moines and start working and performing locally. I soon realized it would be extremely hard to perform in shows and be a high school vocal director. So I had to put my performing second to teaching." 
 
Rebecca was the vocal director at Roosevelt High School here in DM starting in 2011, and also taught as a private voice coach. But as soon as she and her husband were ready to expand their family, she transferred to a less demanding teaching job (at Hubble Elementary), both to perform more, and to be a mom. And, like Princeton and Kate do in Avenue Q, she found her purpose. A number of them, in fact... and it's not just performing.
 
"I love being a mom to my two beautiful children. I never thought I'd love having kids and being a mom this much until my first child was born. I love being of service to my church as an accompanist and cantor. I like working out and my husband and I love going on walks. My faith is important to me. I love musicals, plays, and operas. Des Moines is so solid in the performing arts!"
 
With the hard work and monster talent of passionate performers like Rebecca, it's easy to be that solid. 
 
Rebecca Hadley Hunt performs as part of Noce's monthly Late-Nite Cabaret series this Saturday evening from 10:30 to midnight.  And HEY! We just found out she's also going to be hosting the March 5 edition of Broadway Showtune Karaoke at Noce too! So come show off your own voice as well!!
 

Rebecca Hadley Hunt Zander Morales Charlie Reese Noce Late-Nite Cabaret