Southeast Missouri State University performing arts major Cody Heuer says two years
ago, he had no idea he had the ability to control an entire house with just a song.
Then he met Judith Farris, artist-in-residence in musical theatre and voice for Southeast's
Department of Theatre and Dance. Farris, who served as Cody's vocal coach, opened
doors he never knew existed.
"Her vocal technique has not only made me a better singer, it boosted my confidence and gave me the drive to succeed," he said of Farris. "Most of all, it has made me a fearless actor. My experience with her has made me excited to be onstage alone or with an ensemble and just rock the house. If it wasn't for Judith Farris, I wouldn't be the performer that I am today," Cody said.
His drive and new-found talent landed him a staring role in this summer's production of "The Wiz" at Bigfork Summer Playhouse in Big Fork, Mont. Cody is playing the scarecrow in the production, which he says the director took in a completely different direction than the original Broadway show.
"Our production is very dark, with a gothic feel," Cody said. "It's a "˜steampunk' concept. I love every moment onstage as the scarecrow. I'm constantly moving, singing and falling all over the show. It has been the most exhilarating and rewarding character I have ever played; I love everything about this show," he added.
Working at Bigfork Summer Playhouse has given Cody experience with repertory theatre, meaning they perform four shows at one time. In addition to his role in "The Wiz," Cody is playing the mayor in "Suessical: The Musical," a rock/pop show illustrating the stories of Dr. Suess. He also is serving as the sound engineer/ensemble in "Singin' in the Rain" and an aggie/ensemble in "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Despite his busy schedule, Cody says he is enjoying every minute of it.
"The cast is incredibly professional, fun, easygoing, down-to-earth and talented," he said. "The directors are just as much fun. They guide us and give us the chance to play with and make the characters our own. I've made wonderful friends that I hope to work with again in the future, and gained numerous friends and contacts that could help me obtain more work in the future."
Cody, a senior from Cape Girardeau, will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of fine arts degree in both musical theatre performance and acting/directing. He plans to "go where work takes him," but ideally would like to move to New York and continue auditioning.
"My career goal is to be working and happy, because ultimately what I am doing now makes me happy," he said.
Cody advises future students to be themselves and follow their hearts as well.
"Do what you love, even if the entire world tells you that you can't do it," he said. "Do it anyway. Looking back, I recall so many people telling me that I wasn't good enough, that I couldn't sing, that I couldn't be in musical theatre. Since then, I've done nothing but prove every single one of them wrong. I don't know what is in store for me, but I am making something of myself. The process is never over!"