Doo Wop Project
New York-based singers perform — and listen — in FD
A group of Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond High School students got a little taste of life on Broadway Thursday afternoon from the members of the New York-based group the Doo Wop Project.
In Fort Dodge to perform a Thursday evening concert, the group spent part of its afternoon in the Little Theater at the high school hosting a workshop for the students, listening to them perform and sharing a couple of their own numbers.
Sonny Paladino, the musical director for the group, previewed what was in store.
“We’re excited to fly in to give them the New York experience,” he said. “A little bit of what it’s like inside a show.”
Each of the group’s members have performed in a variety of shows and roles. The Doo Wop Project was born from a backstage conversation in which they discovered they had a common interest in the genre. The group evolved to its current tour schedule of 72 gigs a year.
Each member, Paladino said, also continues to pursue their careers, which includes auditioning for musicals, TV shows and other performance parts as well as their obligations to their current shows.
Each of the performers spoke about the education experience that they had before pursuing the Great White Way in New York. Some had conventional college experiences, some pursued music and one performer, Dominic Scaglione, skipped college.
“I don’t recommend that route,” Scaglione said.
Charl Brown said most of his “education” came after he finished school.
“I did a tour with ‘Hair, The Musical,'” he said. “I always called that my grad school. That, and I learned how to survive a winter in Germany.”
Russell Fischer, another performer with the group, had a similar experience.
“My education happened a little bit in school, but most of it was outside afterwards,” he said.
The performers’ lives are dictated by the nights and days the theaters in New York schedule performances. Typically, they said, they will have shows to do Tuesday through Sunday with one day off. If it’s a new show and there are promotional obligations and other “press” to do, they might not get a day off at all — for months. Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are work days on Broadway too.
One student had an interesting question.
“I take it there’s not much time to take a shower?” she asked.
Brown had a ready answer.
“There’s a shower at the theater,” he said.
While being in a show on Broadway means time away from family, the performers are willing to do the time.
“It’s worth the sacrifice,” Dwayne Cooper said.
Cooper also offered some advice for any of the students thinking about heading east to the Big Apple.
“Be the star wherever you are,” he said. “It’s what sets the bar for you wherever you are.”
He also said that they should judge their achievements against their own goals and aspirations rather than the success of others.
“You lose perspective when you’re trying to get validated that point,” he said.
Scaglione had another good tip.
“Humble behavior and modesty go a long way,” he said.
Paladino, as the musical director, has been part of helping to select performers for shows. He said that in most shows it will come down to two or three people that the producer likes equally for the role.
“Usually, in that situation, it comes down to the nice guy,” he said. “Just be nice.”
The performers all said that performing was something they’ve always felt they wanted to do.
“You know it from the beginning,” Scaglione said.
Fischer mirrored his sentiments and offered his own take on sticking to it.
“Never lose that child-like sense of awe and wonder for your craft,” he said. “You have to love the work.”
After the singers shared their stories, a group of Fort Dodge Senior High students performed an a cappella song for them. The students took the stage while the stars took a seat in the audience.
Paladino spoke for the group after they sang.
“That was so good,” he said.
The Doo Wop Project’s stop in Fort Dodge was sponsored by the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association.
Board member Susan Ahlers Leman brought the students in the audience some good news to go with the pizza that was ready for them after the workshop.
“An anonymous donor has stepped up,” she said. “All of you will receive a free ticket for tonight’s show.”
A loud cheer erupted, a cheer that, perhaps, could be heard all the way to Broadway.