Houghton College senior Daniel Bussey has been named one of twenty-four National Semifinalists in the NATS National Music Theater Competition. He will compete in NYC in January for the semifinals, alongside other top young performers. The top four finalists will receive cash prizes, and the first-place winner will also receive a career management services package from Stage Door Connections.
The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) holds this competition every two years. It is open to performers between the ages of 20 and 28, making this the first year Bussey (21) was eligible to compete. According to the NATS website, the competition is designed as an opportunity for “the best emerging music theater soloists, those who just need that one break to move their careers forward.”
Bussey is majoring in vocal performance at Houghton through the Greatbatch School of Music. He has performed in six Lyric Theatre productions at Houghton College, in roles which display his impressive vocal range and acting versatility. His theatre credits include lead roles in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days, as well as the roles of Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Count Almaviva in an Italian-language production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
NATS National Music Theater Competition
The preliminary round of the competition was held in October. Those auditioning could either come to the in-person auditions in NYC, or send in a video audition. Bussey sent in a video audition, in which he performed “She Cries” from Songs for a New World, “Tonight at Eight” from She Loves Me, and “How It Ends” from Big Fish.
Out of the whole country of applicants, only 24 were selected to go on to the semifinal rounds. Semifinals and finals will both be held in NYC at the Roosevelt Hotel, as part of the NATS Winter Workshop Conference in January.
Bussey will sing in the semifinals, held as part of the 2020 NATS Winter Workshop. Up to 6 of the 24 semifinalists will be selected to sing in the finals later that day, where they will each perform a short program built from their repertoire in the preliminary and semifinal rounds.
“The judges at both levels are musical theatre industry professionals—casting directors and agents,” says voice professor Amanda Cox, who directs Lyric Theatre at Houghton. “Even being able to sing for them is a wonderful opportunity.”
Performing Since Childhood
Bussey says he has been singing since he was a child—“with my family, at church, and by myself in the bath.” He performed in his first musical in eighth grade, and started taking voice lessons in ninth grade. In addition to pursuing a vocal performance major through the Greatbatch School of Music, he has performed in all the Lyric Theatre shows mounted during his time at Houghton.
“I really appreciate the way that Prof. Cox pushes us to be the best we can,” says Bussey. “[R]ehearsals are super fun and every cast has been full of wonderful, supportive, and talented students. And that applies to the whole music program at Houghton—there is a deep joy that I’ve experienced as I pursue my calling in a place where I am surrounded by people who want what is best for me, will push me to strive for excellence, and will show me the love of Christ everyday.”