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NKU professor initiates Croatians into musical theater
The Cincinnati Enquirer- 8/ 29/ 2004
Northern Kentucky University's musical man Mark Hardy brought Broadway style to Croatia this summer.

In Pula, on the shore of the Adriatic, the NKU theater faculty member put would-be stars through their paces, the first time the genre of American musical was included in the city's annual international theater festival.

The enthusiasm was amazing, but what was most fascinating was that "Eastern Europeans have no musical stage traditions, and haven't had any access."

With cultural walls crumbling, what had students standing in line for his workshops was their access to such big-screen musicals as 2002's Chicago. They knew nothing about Rodgers and Hammerstein or Stephen Sondheim, but they were amazed by all that jazz.

Hardy loved every minute of it, but it was hard work, too. His students, ranging from late teens to 30s, didn't understand the importance of having music in the proper key for accompaniment and a lot of them didn't speak English. Those weren't the problems.

No, the problem was that when they think American song and dance it's "MTV, Star Search, American Idol," says Hardy. "I had to tell them to stand still and think about what they were singing, and stop making the bad arm movements."

He's already been invited back next year.

With memories of budding Croatian song and dance stars starting to fade, Hardy is back at work overseeing auditions for NKU's theater opener Babes in Arms. Tryouts for the Rodgers and Hart classic "Hey kids, let's put on a show" musical were last week. Babes plays Sept. 30-Oct. 10.
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