Broadway Veteran Raymond McLeod Gives Master Class

Apr 15, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

The new Musical Theatre program at Florida Southern got a boost last week when a veteran theatrical performer dropped by the campus to give a master class.

Raymond Jaramillo McLeod gave Musical Theatre students pointers on how to present themselves at an audition and listened to performances by the students, showing them how to improve their theatrical singing.

During a rendition of “Mama Who Bore Me” from Spring Awakening, McLeod told freshman Annie Gaddis, “It has to be your voice at your tempo. Don’t make it about style, make it about content. … We want to see a person who knows what they’re singing about.”

McLeod began his career in opera, appearing in La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and continued to Broadway, where he performed in Jekyll and Hyde; Wonderful Town, for which he was a Drama Desk nominee; Dance of the Vampires; and Tale of Two Cities. He has numerous off-Broadway credits, including the role of Juan PerĂ³n in the 20th anniversary tour of Evita. He also had the role of Psycho Bob in the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and has sung in over 200 movie soundtracks and Disney films, including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.

McLeod came to campus through a connection with FSC freshman Jessica Kronenberger, who took classes from him for a year through DRM Studios in Wyckoff, N.J. He got in touch with Kronenberger to let her know he would be in the vicinity of Lakeland and asked if the Musical Theatre Department would like for him to conduct a class. The answer, of course, was yes.

“He is very well known in the Broadway world, since he has so many wonderful credits,” said Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Christi Roll. “His master class was so helpful for our students. It encouraged our students to apply what they are learning in singing and acting lessons by engaging in a hands-on, realistic musical theatre audition experience. Musical theatre is such a collaborative art form, so it was extremely beneficial to have Raymond’s input and guidance on the audition process, especially with his kind and humorous approach to this difficult part of the theatre profession.”

McLeod did push the students. He told Kronenberger, simulating an audition, she should be more assertive.

“Waiting to introduce yourself is another form of apology,” he said. “Smile! Be happy!”

Kronenberger said McLeod is a good teacher.

“He helped us with not only singing the song, but acting it as well,” she said.

For more photos of the master class, click here.