Broadway Music Director/MHS Alum Lena Gabrielle Returns to Speak with Students
Lena Gabrielle, Mendon High School alum and Music Director for the Tony Award®-winning musical SIX (“Boleyn” Tour) came back to her alma mater on May 17 to speak with students in MHS’s music/theater program about her career in music and what it has been like to be part of the global musical sensation about the SIX wives of Henry VIII.
She was joined by Taylor Pearlstein (Alternate for Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) and Sara Gammage (Production Stage Manager), all of whom are in town for the May 16-21 performances of SIX at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre. Each spoke about their individual roles, what it is like to be on tour in a Broadway production, and how they came to this point in their careers.
In talking with students about how to be successful in the music/theater industry, they emphasized the need to approach new experiences with a sense of openness, energy and willingness to work hard. Drawing from her own experiences, Lena shared that life may not always go as planned but will ultimately contribute to personal growth and success. Remaining true to themselves and not comparing their unique abilities with those of others has been a mantra that has supported their mental health along the way.
While Lena’s love of music began at the age of three when she first started playing violin and later when she learned piano and began composing music and writing songs, she didn’t realize being a musical director was even a job until she was 25 years old. She recalled auditioning for a part in a musical and being asked to step into the role of music director after the production’s music director had suddenly quit. It was by complete happenstance that she entered the career she now loves and has experienced so much success in.
Lena’s interest in music has been a lifelong endeavor. She began composing classical music in elementary school, and as a teen discovered her love of writing pop songs. She was involved in high school orchestra, chorus and theater, and in 2007, started a wizard rock band themed around Harry Potter, releasing three CDs and performing in two national tours.
Lena holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory with a Piano Performance minor from Ithaca College. After graduating and living briefly in Portland, OR, and New York City, Lena relocated to Pittsburgh; during her two years there, Lena music directed over 20 shows, taught numerous voice and theatre workshop classes, and was the composer for three original productions. “Tink,” for which Lena wrote the music and lyrics, was presented at the New York Musical Festival in 2016 and received a citation for excellence in family theatre.
Since returning to New York City in 2015, Lena has broadened her work as a music director, performer, and educator, and she has shifted her focus to collaboration and arrangement for new theatre. In the past two years, she has collaborated with over 10 writing teams to help bring their shows to life through new arrangements and orchestrations. Favorite NYC and regional credits include: “Emojiland” (The Duke - New York Times Critics Pick) the world premiere of “The Most Miserable Christmas Tree,” “Endangered: The Eco Musical” (Davenport Theatre), “You, Me, I, We” (Royal Family Productions), “The Full Monty” (Timber Lake Playhouse), and “Aida” (John W. Engeman Theatre at Northport).
From Tudor Queens to Pop Icons, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the microphone to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a Euphoric Celebration of 21st century girl power! This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over! SIX has won 23 awards in the 2021/2022 Broadway season, including the Tony Award® for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. The New York Times says SIX “TOTALLY RULES!” (Critic's Pick) and The Washington Post hails SIX as “Exactly the kind of energizing, inspirational illumination this town aches for!” The SIX: LIVE ON OPENING NIGHT Broadway album debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard cast album charts and surpassed six million streams in its first month.
Rochester, NY, Performances: Mendon High School alum Lena Gabrielle and her castmates will be on stage May 16-21 at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre.