Golden Grizzlies shine bright in the Big Apple

Mitchell Aiello was one of the performers. He was joined by Lily Talevski.

OU MTD students Mitchell Aiello and Lily Talevski were chosen out of students nationwide to perform in NYC

Nearly every musical theatre major’s dream is to end up in New York City performing on a stage under the bright lights for a crowd of adoring fans. Two Oakland University students were able to bring this dream to fruition this summer.

On Aug. 17, Mitchell Aiello and Lily Talevski took the stage at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, alongside 10 other college students to perform selections, new and old, by Sam Carner and Derek Gregor in Carner & Gregor’s Barely Legal Showtune Extravaganza. 

Aiello and Talevski found out about this opportunity when Carner and Gregor themselves came to Oakland in January of 2015 to host a workshop.

“I respected their work immensely and fell in love with the way they write the pieces,” Talevski said. “I know that if I had the opportunity to potentially work with them again, I had to do it.”

“All we had to do was submit a video of ourselves singing either a cut or full song by Carner and Gregor,” Aiello said of the audition process. “They posted the video on their YouTube channel and a panel of industry professionals in New York City judged all the videos.”

This panel included Broadway performers as well as directors, producers and agents, according to  

Once being selected, rehearsals began immediately for these dedicated performers. Upon receiving the music in late July to early August, Talevski at once began to figure out the melodies and form her own approach on the song and performance. 

Once they arrived in New York City on Aug. 11, cast members were given private rehearsals for five days.   During these rehearsals they would sit down with either Carner and Gregor or with the accompanists and work on the music, looking to expand upon the meaning and work on the characters. 

Talevski performed two pieces in the show. In both pieces, she found interesting and relatable characters commenting on relationship troubles as well as surviving post-tragedy. 

Aiello stated they rehearsed “starting on Wednesday until our Sitzprobe (rehearsal with the band) on Sunday.”  He went on to say that they worked with the director, Marlo Hunt, composers, and accompanists regularly, as well.  Aiello got the special opportunity to collaborate with the writers on a new solo called, “What are we Drinking To?” He also performed a duet with a fellow cast member. 

Aiello and Talevski believe Oakland’s music, theatre and dance program is one of a kind and bursting with talent. Talevski said that the department “centers itself on what makes each artist unique…(and) being true to yourself as an artist.” 

“Oakland has so many strengths to offer to unique performers that are hard-working, starving for information, and being caring and generous to the students,” Aiello added.

Though this one show is over, these two will undoubtedly go on to perform in many others, showcasing the amazing talent that Oakland University has to offer. 

If you want to follow these two on their paths to stardom, check them out on social media. 

Mitchell Aiello: Mitchell Aiello (Facebook), @mitchjaiello (Twitter & Instagram),

Lily Talevski: (Facebook), @lily_talev (Twitter), and @lilytalevski (Instagram)