This past weekend, amidst a whirlwind of emotion on the national stage, our studio spent an evening watching a number of our students on the local stage at Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater’s production of Shrek: The Musical, where we were also presented with ALSCT’s “Community Theater Arts Award” for 2017. It was a tremendous honor for our studio, made even more special by the fact that it was presented to us by Susan Raker and Wendy Plummer, mothers of former students Meagan Raker and Anna Plummer who helped make our name in this community as the stars of our first formal production (and my local directorial debut), Goblin Market. As we took the stage, greeted by Susan and Wendy’s friendly faces, to the sound of our students screaming joyously for us from the wings, it was difficult to maintain composure.
For my part, as a relatively new addition to my parents’ teaching studio, I was stunned and thrilled to be included in the award, and moved by the fact that my inclusion was specifically attributed to my “innovation and vision,” particularly my creation of the Opera Workshop and its most recent production, Il sogno d’Arianna, an original English narrative adapted from the works of Claudio Monteverdi. I feel I must stress, however, that not only could this work never have been possible without its major collaborators, musical director Lemuel Gurtowsky, editor/early music expert James David Jacobs, and choreographers Connie Flachs and Anna Plummer, but that the entire existence of the Workshop and everything I’ve brought to the studio would not be possible without the incredible foundation of training and support provided by my business partners and parents, Bob and Jan Klump.
When I look at the students in my Workshop, it could not be more clear that it’s the solid, early vocal training they’ve received from my mother and the thorough, passionate acting work they have done with my father that has not only made them able to perform the material we tackle, but also opened their minds to the beauty and complexity of it all. My vision would be empty without that core training, and the ideas I’ve brought with me could not have flourished without their support and their belief that this work is worthwhile. My parents took a chance on my wild notions, and our students moved them forward with their brilliance and curiosity. Without each other, we have nothing.
Here’s the full text of the speech Wendy and Susan gave as they presented the award:
“Good evening. I’m Wendy Plummer, and this is my friend Susan Raker. We’re here representing the Board of Directors and to present the Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater Arts Award, which recognizes individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to the arts in our area.
This year’s award goes to a family-run voice and acting studio in South Hadley, Act Too Studio, and to its founders and teachers: Bob and Jan Klump and their daughter Melinda Beasi. Would you three please join us on the stage?
Bob Klump has devoted his nearly SIXTY year career to the arts and arts education. He has been a high school band/choral director, directed high school plays and musicals, directed and/or produced summer stock, house managed for and worked in the offices of Theatreworks/USA in New York City and in recent years, privately coached actors and singers in NYC, NJ, The Philadelphia area, and since 2006, at Act Too Studio in Western Massachusetts. Many of his former students have gone on to have professional careers in performance and related areas of the arts.
Jan Klump has also been a voice teacher for over 50 years in Michigan, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and now Western Massachusetts. Her voice students have won full scholarships to college, have appeared on Broadway, and run the gamut from people who say they “can’t carry a tune” to those working as professionals in musical theater.
Both of the Klumps’ daughters have been successful as professional performers and continue to work in the arts. Melinda Beasi performed extensively in her own right as a vocalist and is also receiving this award in particular for her innovation and vision in creating quality collaborative performances through Act Too Studio and starting the Opera Workshop which inspires and educates teens in the performance and production of the classical art form of opera, including last year’s performance: an original opera commissioned and translated from the works of Monteverdi.
Beyond this modeling of commitment, creativity, and enjoyment of the performing arts, the Klump family regularly extend lesson times and open their home to students in their “off” hours, giving their instruction but also their friendship and personal support in a way that can be described as nothing less than way above and far beyond. They make a point of attending students’ performances whenever possible (sometimes several different shows in a single weekend) and staying in touch with students and acquaintances in the arts far and wide, some of whom are famous! Seventeen of tonight’s performers are or have been students at Act Too.
With our admiration and thanks, we present Jan and Bob and Melinda with this award which reads…
‘The Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater Arts Award for January 2017 is presented to (drumroll): Act Too Studio – Jan Klump, Bob Klump, and Melinda Beasi – for their passionate and profound commitment to musical and theatrical education through their many years as innovative educators and as directors of Act Too Studio.'”
It is now more important than ever that our Valley’s community of artists, students, passionate hobbyists, and enthusiastic patrons of the arts come together to ensure that these things we hold so dear—the arts and the truths and human understanding they make possible—survive to enrich future generations. Though we are recent arrivals to the Valley, we’ve cherished the warm welcome we received, and the opportunity to do this work that we love so much in this beautiful place. This award is icing on the cake.
Thank you, Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater, Wendy, Susan, and all the students and families who have allowed us to be part of their lives here in the Pioneer Valley. We are so grateful.