Bucchino joins Schuster cast for ‘It’s Only Life’


staff writer

Erie welcomed and said goodbye to a New York composer, all in one week’s time.
John Bucchino made his appearance at Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre over the weekend for the performance of “It’s Only Life.”
The production written by Bucchino was a musical revue, a type of musical without a set plot line.
Bucchino joined the cast on stage for all three performances, while also instructing them through one of his master classes.
This was the first time the Schuster Theatre welcomed a guest of Bucchino’s caliber.
Two days prior to the performance, Bucchino conducted a master class for students in Gannon’s theatre and communication arts program.
The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, director of the Schuster Theatre, saw that Bucchino offered masters classes to students when viewing his website.
“When I contacted him and asked if he would do a master class, he offered to join us in a weekend performance,” Clerkin said.
Gannon students in “It’s Only Life” were able to have Bucchino assist them in improving parts they were struggling with, and overall help them create the best performance they could.
Bucchino noted his inspiration for the piece was just his huge backlog of unpublished songs.
“I wanted to find a way to present some of them,” Bucchino said.
It ended up being his friend Daisy Prince, the daughter of director Harold Prince who is associated with many Broadway productions, who helped him create this piece.
Prince’s Los Angeles production of “It’s Only Life” won the Ovation Award for best new musical, and the show has gone on to have performances all over the U.S., as well as in London, Paris and Oslo.
Bucchino had never been to Erie, but said he was most interested is seeing the students from this area and the talents they possessed.
“Working with students is probably my favorite thing to do,” he said before arriving.
“I hope the Gannon students surprise themselves by how fully they’re able to immerse themselves in these songs and affect an audience.”
Bucchino did a sing-through of the entire show with the cast and discussed the meaning and inspiration of each song the Wednesday before the show.
“He let us know the type of characters he wrote each song for,” said Megan Hamm, a junior theatre and communication major and assistant director of the production.

“That really helped our cast understand the emotion behind each piece and how they should sing it.”
Bucchino set aside time with each cast member interested in his assistance on Thursday and Friday. This one-on-one experience between the students and community members was a once in a lifetime opportunity that the cast members greatly enjoyed.
One of the cast members, freshman theatre communication major Molly Ramich, said that Bucchino was very encouraging to the cast and acknowledged their commitment and hard work.
“It really boosted the energy of our group,” Ramich said. “It was an incredible experience receiving his expert guidance.”
Hamm said meeting Bucchino helped to encourage her to move forward with her major. She always knew she wanted to involve herself with theater.
“Listening to him tell us stories of his life and his friends really helped inspire and motivate me to continue with this route,” Hamm said.
Much of the cast acknowledged their appreciation for Bucchino’s help in this production and look forward to what else the Schuster Theater has in store for the future.

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