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Local director and voice coach Scott Elliott talks

Hannah Swayze • Jan 7, 2019 at 11:01 AM

Do you love to sing?

Scott Elliott can relate. The musical director, director and vocal coach has loved singing since he was a child, and still sings, constantly. Involved extensively in local theater in Johnson City, Kingsport and beyond, music and theater are his life.

Currently, Elliott is directing “The Little Mermaid,” which opens Feb. 28 at the Johnson City Community Theatre.

Favorite musical? Right now, it’s “DEAR EVAN HANSEN.” Next week, who knows?!
Favorite type of music to sing? Showtunes, 80s pop and rock, gospel.
Favorite food? Can I not answer? Steak is what I love, but pizza has been what I went to. This year, I’m trying to eat healthier. Here’s hoping for the best.
Pets? My wonderful dog, Cher. Photo attached. She loves everyone and literally thinks everyone is her friend. Along with every deer and bear that have run through my yard.
Dream role? I’ve always wanted to be Javert in Les Miserables.

Tell me about your relationship with music. How did it start?

When I was a kid, I couldn’t sing. At all. Mom sang all the time and has a wonderful voice and I was just loud. So I joined the children’s choir at church. One of the teachers, Debbie Finlay, would sit behind me and sing in my ear, week after week, until I was able to match pitch. Then, I never shut up. I fell in love with singing everything. By the time I was in high school, I was in the band and choir, and everything I did involved music.

2. How did you get involved with theater?

In high school, on choir trips with Dr. Dennis Price, we travelled to NYC and Toronto, where I was able to see my first Broadway shows. I started acting in college. I really wish I had started sooner. Our theater instructor, Keith Cassidy, gave me opportunities and opened the door for me there. I music directed a few shows, acted in several and fell in love with the stage.

3. What is it like teaching voice?

I would have never thought I would love teaching voice as much as I do. Once I started music directing theater shows, I loved watching people grow and develop vocally. It started with a few students that really wanted to work on audition pieces and grew from there. I went back and reread my old college textbooks and when the opportunity came to teach full time, I took the risk and went with it. Seeing each student, young and not so young, grow and do things vocally they thought they couldn’t ... it’s life-changing to me.

4.You also are working on an original musical, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Absolutely! E.C. Huff and I are working on a show called “Welcome to Marfa.” I’m writing most of the music while he has written a brilliant and funny script. I wanted to write a show that people that you wouldn’t normally find in one place together and have the audience laughing hard. He and I researched possible places to set the show and came up with Marfa, Texas. It’s a small town in the desert that has become a very artistic community. All kinds of people live there. It’s amazingly beautiful too. So we created a fictional diner and characters, some based in reality, and came up with a story. Hopefully, I will have some music done in the next month or two so we can get the show cast and develop it. We are hoping to have it premiere in the Tri-Cities next year!!

5. How is “The Little Mermaid” going so far?

What fun! We have been building the set this week, and start music and choreography rehearsals this coming week, but I’m so excited! This is a powerhouse of a cast! So many people came out to auditions. I was so blessed. I’m excited to announce our Ariel, Jaklyn Halpin, will be one of the first Ariel’s of color that I’m aware of. She’s stunning and sings like an angel! We wanted to create an interpretation of this classic Disney show, where no matter what your skin color or weight is, everyone can understand their value and can be a princess! And our Ursula, Marian Short .. .so divine! If I had time I would tell you about every single cast member. That’s how significant they are to this cast!

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