Award-Winning Broadway Composer John Bucchino to Teach and Perform at Gannon University

Posted: December 1, 2016

"I feel a hand holding my hand/It's not a hand you can see/But on the road to the promised land/This hand will shepherd me" says a verse of the penultimate song from "It's Only Life," a musical revue by the award-winning composer and lyricist John Bucchino.

From Nov. 30-Dec. 3, Bucchino's hand will shepherd Gannon University students as he will teach, rehearse and accompany them in performances of "It's Only Life" at the Schuster Theatre.

This is the first time Gannon's Schuster Theatre will host a guest artist of Bucchino's caliber- not only as a performer, but also as a teacher. Bucchino will spend two days conducting a master class for students in Gannon's Theatre and Communication Arts program and Gannon's two newest theater degree programs: Performance for Media and Stage and Theatre Technologies and Design.

"I've worked with the highest level professionals and relative beginners," Bucchino said by phone from his New York studio. "When I'm working with somebody who is already a seasoned performer, the ways I can help them are fewer and more subtle. It's more rewarding to work with somebody less experienced."

Students in Gannon's theater programs will apply hands-on learning to their classroom curriculum. They will also gain practical experience in staging, technical and design elements of a performance and developing on-stage voice and acting skills as they rehearse alongside Bucchino.

"The fact that the university not only wanted to have a master class, but are having a performance of the revue is a bonus," Bucchino said. "I love the show and I'm very proud of it and any chance to put it in front of an audience is a win/win/win situation."

The production will draw on the talents of students in Gannon's two new programs. The Performance for Media and Stage program emphasizes acting, directing, improvisation, movement and voice. Theatre Technologies and Design focuses on all elements needed for successful theater, film, television, commercial and related creative works, emphasizing design/technical areas including costume, lighting, puppetry, scenic and sound design.

"In the revue, each song is a one-act play in itself," Bucchino said. "There's a lot of juicy acting opportunities to mine in the songs."

John Bucchino's songs have been performed and recorded by pop (Art Garfunkel, Judy Collins), theater (Liza Minnelli, Audra McDonald), cabaret (Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein), and classical artists as well as The Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He has written scores for the musicals "Urban Myths," "Lavender Girl" and Broadway's "A Catered Affair," with a book by Harvey Fierstein, which was nominated for 12 Drama Desk Awards, and won the New York Drama League Award for Best Musical

Among Bucchino's honors are two Drama Desk nominations, The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award, The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award and The Los Angeles Ovation Award for "It's Only Life."

"It's Only Life: The Music of John Bucchino" will feature Bucchino accompanying performances by Gannon students and Erie community performers at Gannon's Schuster Theatre in Scottino Hall, 620 Sassafras St.

Performances will be held Friday, December 2 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 3 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. General admission is $10; admission for Gannon community members with a current ID is $5. For ticket reservations and more information, contact the Schuster Theatre box office at 814-871-7494 or click here.