Patrick Newell is the founder of the Musical Theatre BFA Concentration at the University of Wyoming. A recent recipient of the
University’s Seibold Excellence in Teaching Research Award, he has spent the past two years researching and writing about a technique of singing known as Belting as taught by Lee and Stephen
Sweetland. Patrick often serves as a Music Director, Conductor, and Director, sometimes all at the same time. Recently he was the Music Director for Working, Chicago, A Chorus
Line (University of Wyoming), Godspell (Off-Square Theatre), Rent (Theatre West), The Last Five Years (Snowy Range Summer
Theatre), and is very proud to have Music Directed a new conception of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady titled Wouldn’t It Be Lovely at Theatrum Elysium in the L.A. area. He has
conducted numerous productions, including the premier of Rainy Day People (University of Wyoming). As a performer, Patrick is newly discovering his talent and affinity for the
Heldentenor repertoire. Finding that his voice flourishes in this heroic, high-baritone range, he is pursuing his opera career in such roles, specifically Wagnerian roles. Patrick continues,
however, to perform both opera and Musical Theatre, recently serving as understudy for Sky Masterson (Great Lakes Theatre), David inCompany (Mt. Baker Theatre), and as a baritone on Opera
Scenes tours with Emerald City Opera (Steamboat, CO). Patrick holds three degrees from Indiana University: Doctor of Music, Master of Music, and Bachelor of Music (with distinction). He has
taught numerous master classes and workshops throughout the U.S. on diverse topics.
Tell us about a transformative educational experience.
About four years ago, I was contacted by a previous colleague,Tony Richards, who told me he was touring the U.S. giving master classes on how to sing Belt. I invited him to teach my studio at the University of Wyoming for a week while I went on recruiting trips. When I returned to the University, all of my students were singing better, and those that I never thought could Belt were now Belting higher and louder than I had thought possible. A few weeks later I took lessons from Tony, and he quickly had me doing things vocally I did not think would be possible for me. He explained the origins of the Belt technique, created by Lee Sweetland, and put me in touch with Lee's son Steven. In the four years since that first lesson with Tony, I have grown incredibly as a teacher and a singer. I have returned many times to have lessons with Tony and Steven, each time marvelling at the unlimited possibilities they help me uncover. This singing technique has become everything to me, the only way to sing, and the only technique I will ever teach.
What about transformative professional experiences?
I've had the good fortune to collaborate with many world-class performers and directors. They bring to me a reminder of what true professionalism entails, and I get to benefit from their years of experience working on and behind the stage. I thought I knew how things were done--and then I worked at Elysium. The creative process and the expectations of creative discovery are unlike any theatre experience I've had. And I loved it! I quickly jumped into the fray, expanding my creative freedoms--my self-permissions--while working with highly creative and committed actors and staff. Elysium's non-traditional theatre space, innovative creation of shows, and energetic and creatively expansive teaching team have changed my entire concept of what theatre can be. I am home.
Why I do what I do...
Its all about people, isn't it? About connecting with people, whether as a teacher, director, or performer, and inducing a positive change in their lives. That connection can last a moment (has a performance ever moved you to tears or made you think about a topic in a new way?) or a lifetime (has a teacher forever changed your direction in life?). I derive great life satisfaction, fundamental happiness, from the work I do with others.
What about ECT inspires you?
ECT fosters fearlessness. Failure is a fear of most performers (and all artists), and yet failure often leads to the greatest creative discoveries. ECT embraces failure as a means to learn and grow. Because of that, the rehearsal atmosphere is one of great support, while demanding each and every person to give their all. Elysium Conservatory Theatre is a place for the creative stage artist to flourish under the watchful and supportive mentorship of the entire cast and crew. We are always ready to explore the answers to "What if..."
My favorite "day-off" event would be...
... always involves time in the mountains, hiking, backpacking, picnicking. I consider the mountains my natural habitat, where I find restoration, peace, and joy.
If I had one million dollars I would...
... money is a force. I would invest carefully for a period of time towards the goal of supporting various philanthropic endeavors that create positive change in people's lives through the Arts and Nature. This I already do on a tiny scale, but imagine the good that could be done with more!
Did you know...
... I grew up on a dairy farm? I was driving the tractors at age 8, and the truck by 14. I have 7 siblings, and I'm the only one employed in the Arts. I crochet, love cooking, and brew beer. I backpacked the John Muir Trail in 21 amazing days, I have climbed 54 of the 58 mountains in Colorado that are above 14,000 feet elevation, and I've bicycled more than 100 miles in a day many times. And I'm married to my favorite person in the whole wide world, Lauren.