Broadway comes to DePauw: Tony Award Winning Alice Ripley ‘85 teaches Vocalists

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Alice Ripley performs a song for voice students. KATHERINE VIECK
Alice Ripley performs a song for voice students. KATHERINE VIECK

Twenty-two DePauw voice students got the opportunity of a lifetime: an interactive workshop with a Tony Award winning Broadway actress.

Alice Ripley came to campus on March 16 to teach a masterclass for vocal performance. Ripley is best known for her work as ‘Diana’ in the hit rock-opera “Next to Normal.” Her performance as ‘Diana’ earned the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, according to her website. She was also a part of the original Broadway revival cast for “The Rocky Horror Show.” Ripley is also featured in the new Netflix half-hour comedy, “#GIRLBOSS.” Her other television work includes “30 Rock,” “Royal Pains” and “Blue Bloods.

To begin the class, Ripley opened with information about herself. She said that the last time she was up on the Thompson Hall stage, she was performing in her final recital. Ripley was an intended vocal performance major but transferred two years into her degree because of financial difficulties due to a result of her being a middle child of eleven.

She said that she enjoyed her time at DePauw very much, saying that she was “very grateful,” and particularly admired her voice coach.

“He actually let me do what I wanted to do,” she said. During her time at DePauw, Ripley performed in the musicals “Brigadoon” and “Sweeney Todd,” both of which featured her in principal roles.

Ripley is known for her belting, a vocal technique involving the mixing of registers to produce a loud note that resembles a tasteful, controlled yelling. Ripley described the sensation as “throwing spaghetti at the back of the crowd and hoping that it sticks.” Her voice filled the room as students were blown away by her sheer talent.

Then, it was the students’ turn to sing. Vocal students performed selections from the musicals “Heathers,” “The Addams Family,” “Shrek the Musical” and “Sister Act. From these performances, the masterclass began as Ripley critiqued and suggested improvements for the students. Senior vocalist Inès Hayouna was inspired by the workshop, saying, "Working with Tony Award Winner Alice Ripley was such an incredible opportunity. It was truly inspiring to work with such outstanding talent. I hope she comes back to DePauw very soon."

Ripley ran several demonstrations throughout the three-hour class, most of which involved helpful yoga poses. Ripley stressed the importance of yoga and swimming to not only vocalists, but anyone looking to have better posture and breathing. She also had students perform their pieces while mirroring her gestures and movements.

The students she worked with were thrilled to accept her advice.

“[Ripley] was bursting with energy, which is what we would expect from her reputation. I hope we can all take what she taught us to heart,” said first-year vocalist Jonathan Kroger.

After the class ended, Ripley met and chatted with students, telling each of them which Broadway role they would be perfect for.

Female voice students perform for Ripley. KATHERINE VIECK