Broadway’s Martin Charnin presents musical theater master class to Florham students

charnin1Above: The creator of "Annie," Martin Charnin with his wife, Shelly Burch, on the stage of Dreyfuss Theater at the Florham Campus where he gave a master class to musical theater students.


Story and photos by Dan Landau

This November, musical theater legend Martin Charnin visited the Florham Campus to work with students in the theater program. Accompanied by his wife, Shelly Burch, a seasoned Broadway actress, Charnin spent three hours in Dreyfuss Theater sharing his wisdom and experience with the students.

Charnin, who is best known for creating the musical “Annie,” began the class by sharing anecdotes from his successful career, including beating out others for a role in the original production of “West Side Story” (the casting director was looking for “genuine juvenile delinquents,” said Charnin).

That was followed by auditions by eleven musical theater students. Accompanied on the piano by Allen Cohen, professor of music, the students went one at a time in front of the audience and sang selections from various musicals while Charnin offered critiques of their performance to prepare them for professional theater auditions.

charnin2Above: Charnin critiques senior musical theater major Savannah Lloyd.


He told one student who sang his song again after receiving feedback, “the first guy I wouldn’t have hired. The second guy I would have.”

The students who sang for Charnin included, Savannah Lloyd, Jordan Rubio, Pamela Shapiro, Mitchell Folan, Kimberly Siggins, DaShaun Williams, Jessica Hanner, Rachel Palmissano, Matthew Cote, Daio Floyd, and Dylan Coker.  


Charnin has had a storied career in theater, working as a performer, director, writer, and composer. Best known for creating the long-running show “Annie,” Charnin got his start as an actor and later went on to direct, write, and compose numerous other Broadway productions, including “The Flowering Peach,” “The First,” “ The Madwoman of Central Park West,” and “Hot Spot.” Charnin won two Tony Awards for “Annie.”