Reese H. is Anne’s wonderful vocal student, primarily focusing on musical theatre. He’s a triple threat, taking multiple types of dance lessons, singing with us, and regularly performing in musicals. We’d especially like to congratulate him for landing the lead in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Reese is also kind and humble, and it’s such a pleasure to get to watch him progress.
Q & A with Reese
MM: What are some of your favorite hobbies, outside of music? Favorite school subjects, books, movies, shows, sports?
RH: I love doing musical theater. I also love to do dance. I take tap, hip hop, jazz, and ballet. Tap and jazz are my favorite. I also love to read. I like books like Wonder, Harry Potter, and The Crenshaw. My favorite subject in school is math. I like math because it’s like solving puzzles. I taught myself to sketch and learned a few techniques online, so I do a lot of that. I carry a sketch book with me everywhere.
MM: How did you get started with music, and how long have you been singing?
RH: I started performing musical theater at The Music Room in Orange when I was in 3rd grade. I started taking voice lessons about a year ago in 5th grade because I wanted to have a better chance at getting bigger roles. It worked out because I landed a featured role at my first audition 5 months later. I got to play one of the Wickersham Brothers in Seussical with Yorba Linda Spotlight Theater Company.
MM: What have been some of your favorite performances, and why? How do you share your music with others, beyond recitals?
RH: I’ve only performed in three voice recitals, but my favorite performance was “What If” from The Addams Family. I like the song because it’s funny, but dark. I made a lot of progress since the last recital, so I was really happy with how it turned out. I felt like it was my best performance so far.
In addition to voice recitals, I perform in musicals several times a year. Some of my favorite shows have been Mary Poppins, Seussical, and My Son Pinocchio. I loved the choreography and music in those shows. I loved doing the bank scene in Mary Poppins because the choreography really fit the characters, so it was fun to perform. In Seussical, the Wickersham Brothers were rude and mean and poked fun at people, which was interesting because I had never gotten to play a character like that before. I liked playing Professor Buonraggazo in My Son Pinocchio because he’s very quirky. That’s not like me, to be honest, but he was very fun to play. One of the many things I like about musical theater is that I get to make new friends every time I perform in a new show. I also like performing fake fights, which I get to do in my next show, Crazy for You.
MM: What makes you keep up your practice, and what are your goals?
RH: I see my progress, and I want to keep going so I can be a better singer. Before, my voice was “wiggly” and it didn’t sound good. Now I feel I can control my voice better. It’s not great yet, but there’s still a lot of room to grow. I want to be able to rely on my voice and have more control so that I won’t have to worry about messing up. I already feel like I have much more control than I did in the beginning.
MM: Who are a few bands/artists/musicals that have inspired you, and why?
RH: The first musical I remember loving to sing along to was Rent. My dad did musical theater in high school and college, so I got the musical theater gene from him. We listened to Rent in the car on a road trip, and that was it! After that, my sister introduced me to Hamilton, and I’ve been obsessed with Broadway ever since. Last year, I got to see Hamilton when it came to Pantages, and I saw Waitress on Broadway. My next goal is Mean Girls on Broadway.
MM: What are some of your favorite songs, and why?
RH: Right now I’m obsessed with “Fearless (reprise)” and “More is Always Better” from Mean Girls. My sister wants to kill me because I sing them so much. “She Used to be Mine” from Waitress is another huge favorite. My mom and I also still love to rap “Satisfied” from Hamilton together in the car.
MM: Can you share about a technique, skill, or song you struggled with, and how you are overcoming or have overcome it?
RH: Definitely the hardest song for me to sing was “Electricity” from Billy Elliot, which I performed at the last recital. It was hard because the song has a lot of “ee” sounds that you have to hold, which was hard for me to master. I learned how to use an “up and over” technique on the higher notes that were harder to sing, and it made it sound better. It’s a technique I’m glad I know how to use now.
MM: Congratulations on getting cast as the lead in Willy Wonka! How did you prepare for that audition? Have you started rehearsing yet?
RH: Thank you! I actually didn’t have much time to prepare for the audition. It’s a school production, and they only gave us one week’s notice, and I wasn’t there on the day they let us pick parts to audition for. I had one voice lesson before the singing audition, so luckily I got to practice with Anne first. I’m very excited about playing Charlie because he has very fun songs to sing, like the burping song and “I Got a Golden Ticket.” We started rehearsals before winter break and have learned the opening dance number. The show is not until the end of the school year, so we have a ways to go.
MM: Are you hoping to do musical theater professionally, either through local productions or by auditioning for Broadway?
RH: I’m not sure yet, that’s a long way away. I would love to try auditioning for a show on Broadway, but first I want to study theater in college. Performing on Broadway would be the thing I would most like to do, but I would be happy to perform anywhere in any of my favorite shows. That would be a dream come true.
MM: Anything else you’d like to add to share?
RH: I’m really glad I have good friends and family to support me because without them I wouldn’t be able to do everything I love to do. I’m very thankful!