Upon graduating from the University of Cincinnati as a Theatre Arts major in the Arts & Sciences College in 1964, I immediately left for Daytona Beach, FL where I would be performing, directing & choreographing for Musikaravan which was leasing The Little Theatre in Daytona Beach for the summer.  Prof. F. Paul Rutledge from UC was producing and was my mentor.  I had previously worked with Mr. Rutledge at the Maxinkuckee Playhouse in Traverse City, MI after my freshman year.  The company was mostly made up of students from UC.  Some were from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music which had become part of the University the year before.  I had a scholarship in ballet at CCM and studied voice with Robert Powell, Jeanine Phillippe & Lucille Evans.  The next year, CCM would have a Musical Theatre major at UC and my Master of Arts degree (1982) and Honorary Doctorate (1998) would be from CCM.

I received my scholarship from Marian LaCour of CCM who had seen me dance with the Cincinnati Zoo Opera Ballet the summer after I graduated from Holmes High School in Covington, KY where I was born.  I was recommended by Suzi Ficker (who later became Suzanne Farrell of the NYC Ballet) who was a member of the company.  The Cincinnati Zoo Opera was quite prestigious and the stars were from the Metropolitan Opera.  The open air pavilion was in the middle of the zoo and, yes, the animals used to sing along!  Suzi & I have remained life long friends.  She received a Ford Scholarship after that summer to NYC Ballet and the rest is history.

I returned to the Cincinnati Zoo Opera Ballet after my sophomore year to dance for Mme. Tatiana Grantzeva (formerly of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo).  Mme. remained in Cincinnati and replaced Ms. LaCour at CCM upon her retirement.  Unfortunately, Mme. only stayed for a few years.  She was a brilliant teacher and improved my technique greatly.  I’m forever grateful!

We worked round the clock at Musikaravan but loved every minute of it.  We did all the work ourselves and it was great training.  It also gave me respect for all the people who work behind the curtain.  Mr. Rutledge had given me lots of responsibility at UC.  I was Vice President of our campus drama club, The Mummers Guild, my sophomore year and was President my junior & senior year.  I directed, choreographed and played the lead in most of the Mummers productions.  I also directed & choreographed The Senior & Junior Variety shows at Holmes High School, sang in the Glee Club and was a member of Flats & Cues, our drama club, under the direction of Don Poston.

I received my Equity card the summer after my sophomore year at the James Alex Summer Theatre in Dayton, OH where I played Tommy Keeler in Annie Get Your Gun and danced the mambo with Rita Moreno in DAMN YANKEES.  She had just won her Oscar for WEST SIDE STORY.   I also partnered Jane Powell in MOST HAPPY FELLA and danced the role of Bill Calhoun in KISS ME, KATE starring Patricia Morison.  They, too, have remained life long friends.  I would later do the Liar Song with Jane on a PBS TV Special, AN EVENING WITH ALAN JAY LERNER (1989).  We recreated the original routine she did with Fred Astaire.

Our shows at Musikaravan were THE BOY FRIEND, SOUTH PACIFIC, LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE, THE FANTASTICKS & BYE, BYE BIRDIE.  I had received the Best Actor Award at UC for THE BOY FRIEND & BYE, BYE BIRDIE.  Our production of THE FANTASTICKS at UC in 1961 was the first production outside of the Off Broadway original.

I will always be grateful to my teachers and the arts of Cincinnati & Covington.  It was a privilege to perform with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops with Maestro Erich Kunzel.  It gave me a strong foundation that resulted in my being  a working professional before I came to New York.  I’m a lucky guy!!