The Musco Center for the Arts: a new hope?

A shimmering green expanse, sweeping rows of stone busts and several towering feet of windows. That’s only the exterior of Chapman’s newly opened Musco Center for the Arts.

For students like Alina Novotny, senior theatre technology major, the building represents an exciting new career practice space:

“The Musco opening has provided amazing and unique learning opportunities for all students because it has exposed us to a new level of professionalism which ultimately gives us an edge in our preparedness for the real world.”

This level of professionalism the building provides is advantageous not only because it can help artistic students practice their art in an ideal space, but it will keep them ready for any stage, large or small, according to junior screen acting major Abigail Sims:

“It’s so large and grandiose, it’s a scale of production that we as actors probably won’t be able to participate in for a while after graduating.”

Despite the educational and hands-on artistic experiences the center may provide, some students like Charlotte Anderson, sophomore theatre studies major, are concerned its lack of dedicated classrooms may result in missed learning potential for the students that make use of it:

“I think it has the capability to really put Chapman on the map, especially in the performing arts community. However, my biggest problem with it is that there aren’t any classrooms in it. Sometimes I wish that Chapman would stop acting like a for-profit business and more like an educational facility.”

Despite some student worries that the center will not act as a literal class space, College of Performing Arts Dean, Giulio M. Ongaro, gives his assurance that the center will essentially function as a large classroom of its own to students who take advantage of their time working there:

“The building itself is a classroom. For those students in “Merchant of Venice,” both those who are acting and those who are theatre technology students, that is where they are learning.”

“Merchant of Venice,” the Shakespeare play that was recently staged in the center, was the first theatrical production put on in the Musco by Chapman’s Department of Theatre. Tom Bradac, theatre professor and director of the play, states that his show was a continuation of the effort of community outreach by the university sparked initially by the opening ceremonies of the building and as an example of quality entertainment in the center:

“The welcoming event we just had is a great example of bringing the community on campus to participate in artistic activities and see the university in a different light. It’s like an open hand to the community as well as to the campus. I’m hoping to continue that with ‘Merchant.’”

While faculty such as Ongaro or Bradac are optimistic that the Musco Center may be used as a tool for artistic invigoration and inspiration in both the Chapman community and larger population of Orange County, Ongaro is most touched by the fiery desire the building’s stage instilled within prospective students on the Musco’s preview day, eager to make the stage their new theatrical home:

“On our preview day, we had a large amount of admitted students come to see the Musco. At one point I had all the students that I was leading around get up on the stage inside the building. Just to see the excitement on their faces imagining that they could be acting on that stage one day was amazing.”

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