Looking Within: M.F.A. Third-Year Actors Present Personal Anthems

By Taylor Steinbeck

For A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Class of 2018, this is the moment of truth. After over two years of intensive training, they have reached their final year as acting students. In light of their impending departure, the actors have been challenged to dig deep for their upcoming musical revue, Now. Here. Us., which runs this weekend only. “The actors are performing songs to which they feel a personal connection,” says director Milissa Carey, “Each song celebrates their individual artistry and style.” We spoke with four of these actors to find out what their song means to them.

A.C.T.'s M.F.A. Class of 2018 in their 2016 musical revue, Sing, Sing, Sing. Photo by Alessandra Mello.
Beatriz Miranda on “My House” (from Matilda): One of the biggest discoveries I have made during this time is how grateful I am for my home. The farther away I travel from my family, my childhood room, my apartment in Puerto Rico, and everything that has shaped me until now, the easier it is to feel disconnected from it all. But being a nomad has taught me how to understand the value of the small moments happening around me. Even if I’m far away, I’m always connected to that which I truly love; these memories make up my home. Right now, this piece speaks to me louder than ever. Every time I hear “My House,” I’m always brought back home.

M.F.A. actor Beatriz Miranda. Photo by Alessandra Mello.
Leonard A. Thomas on “Feeling Good” (based on Nina Simone’s cover of the song from The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd): Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations—she wasn’t just an artist, but an activist who had a stake in the issues of social justice and equality of her day. To me, this song represents a struggle or fight to find joy, peace, freedom, and happiness. Simone grappled with those concepts her whole life and I've grappled with similar battles. I'm singing this song to honor her, her fight, and the fight that I've picked up because of her generation.

M.F.A. actors Adrianna Mitchell and Leonard A. Thomas. Photo by Alessandra Mello.
Adrianna Mitchell on “I Know Where I’ve Been” (from Hairspray): The lyrics of this song urge me to take ownership of my journey as a Black woman and artist. I wanted to sing a song connected to the truth of facing the horrors of today's America but also one that acknowledges how far my ancestors and I have come and my hope for where we all can go. 

Peter Fanone on “Waving Through a Window” (from Dear Evan Hansen): As a kid growing up with chronic anxiety (as too many do these days), this song spoke to me about what it feels like to hide your problems from the world, for fear of failure, and to fall short of your true self because of that fear. It connects to my belief that everyone really wants to be loved and it’s only in refusing to accept love that we spread hate and fear to ourselves and others. This is a song about a troubled kid fighting for hope, dreaming of something greater despite the failures of the past.
M.F.A. actor Peter Fanone joined by Jennifer Apple, Rivka Borek, and Beatriz Miranda. 
Photo by Alessandra Mello.
Now. Here. Us. runs October 19–21 in The Garret at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater. Click here to purchase tickets through our website.

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