Grads to pursue majors in fine arts

Posted: May 22, 2017

Humason, Aronson exit Minnehaha’s stages; seek next roles in college

You’ve probably seen or heard seniors Matthew Humason and Eli Aronson performing on the stage sometime within your experience at Minnehaha Academy. It might be listening to them playing with other students in the band, performing onstage in one of Minnehaha’s outstanding plays or singing in the Madrigals.

It would be hard to say Humason and Aronson haven’t made an impact on our school’s productions. These seniors have been going to M.A. since before high school, but are taking their passions further and are going to college with plans to study acting and vocal production respectively.

Theater director Nicholas Freeman and upper school choral director Karen Lutgen have seen the way this duo has impacted Minnehaha.

“[Matthew’s] very first show here, he did not get cast,” Freeman recalled. But that didn’t deter Humason; instead he went back to Freeman and asked how he could improve for next time. What developed was a four-year career involving many performances including recent involvement in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. For Humason this was his most memorable performance for a number of reasons.

“For me that was just very emotionally charged, with all the memories that I’ve had there,” Humason said. As he put it, the show was a complete blast.

Humason and the other actors were able to memorize challenging lines quickly, allowing them to focus on the acting. It’s this type of work ethic, Freeman has pointed out, that has helped Humason to be so successful.

“He leads by example,” said Freeman. “He comes into rehearsal with his lines memorized. He’s very professional. He knows how to laugh and have a good time when that’s appropriate and he knows how to get work done when it’s time to get work done.”

Freeman has seen how Humason is always looking for ways to improve and hone his skills.

“Matthew is unique in that he wants to know everything with respect to theater,” he said. Humason has not only acted, he’s worked as a stage manager,   helped to direct and has developed fight choreography. In addition to his theatrical involvement, Humason also joined choir this year and was selected for Madrigals.

Humason’s involvement with the stage will not end after graduation as he looks to continue his theater career at Illinois Wesleyan University. According to Humason his choice of Wesleyan was not so much a decision as a natural fit.

“Minnehaha is such a close knit community, especially within the theater,” he said. “Everybody’s there to support each other and help each other to make good art.”

In the same way, he notes that “Illinois Wesleyan has the same sort of community there that really cares about each other and really cares about what they’re doing.”

Humason thinks that if it were not for Minnehaha he would not be pursuing his career in acting.

“Without that community I never would have known how great theater can be,” said Humason.

Similarly, Eli Aronson will be studying music at Simpson College in the fall. He strongly considered Eastman School of Music, which is a top tier school, but decided on Simpson because he believes they attract excellent vocal talent.

“I connected with a voice teacher and fell in love with their music and opera program,” Aronson said.

Like Humason, Aronson has had a significant impact both in music and theater at Minnehaha. According to Lutgen, Aronson’s voice provides a strong presence as a soloist, while requiring some balance while singing as part of a small ensemble. Lutgen, who has known Aronson for four years, indicates that he has a dramatic, operatic voice.

“[His voice] is developed beyond his years.” said Lutgen. “He came in with a lot of vocal training.”

This training came from years of independent study. After an initial experience in the school musical his freshman year, Aronson began vocal training with the Angelica Cantanti Singers. He took additional private vocal training and for the past three years, has studied classical voice at the MacPhail Center for Music. It was during his junior year that his singing changed from a hobby into a passion.

“I was seeing progress in my development, and I fell in love with Opera and German lieder and arias,” said Aronson. “At that point, I was open to change but over the course of the year my interest only grew.”

Aronson is recognized for bringing his passion and leadership to the stage.

“He serves as tenor section leader in class, the boss for the tenors. He is also the singers’ president,” Lutgen said, adding that Aronson “demonstrates this leadership through his work ethic and curiosity.”

Aronson’s interest and involvement in music has been expressed in many different ways.

“I can easily say I haven’t had a student do as many different things in the music world as Eli does,” said Lutgen.

Aronson has appreciated how Minnehaha has given him so many performance opportunities.

“I have loved being able to play in three orchestras as well as sing in two school choirs and still be able to do the musicals and plays,” he said.

It is no surprise then that Aronson has received the honor of being a Triple Threat Finalist in the 2017 Spotlight Showcase, one of only 10 selected in the state of Minnesota.

Humason and Aronson both think that Minnehaha had an important influence on their performance interests and will both miss the students and faculty that have supported them along the way.

As Freeman and Lutgen reflect back on Humason’s and Aronson’s performance career and influence on Minnehaha they both observed how committed they are. They both agree with the seniors’ decisions to pursue their passion to perform. Both students really stand out due to their strong work ethic and drive to always improve.

“That’s what makes theater students who succeed,” Freeman said. “That’s what makes them great, because they are always wanting to be better.”

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