Student hopes to live his life on stage

The Majestic Theatre, one of Broadway’s largest theaters, has housed productions such as “The Wiz” and “Fiddler on the Roof” since 1927. But for USF student Brendan Daugherty, it was a summer office.

Daugherty, a senior majoring in vocal performance, said he was drawn to the performing arts as a child and hoped to become an actor at an early age. However, he thought he would find a different dream when he came to USF as a physical education major, he said.

“When I first came to USF, I thought performing may have been just a childhood thing and that it was time to move on,” he said. “I thought I wanted to get away from the performing arts. I couldn’t.”

His decision to return to his childhood passion paid off. Over the summer, Daugherty was chosen by the Majestic Theatre, located in New York City’s Broadway, out of more than 1,500 applicants across the nation to intern with Tim Stella, the conductor and director of famous shows like “The Phantom of the Opera.”

During his internship, Daugherty studied under Stella and learned the nuances of directing, as well as the non-performance elements of creating musical theater. Today, Daugherty said he can call Stella, who provided piano accompaniment for his USF vocal audition, a friend.

“It’s what I love to do. I’d like to go to work and come back and want to do more of the same thing,” Daugherty said. “I also want to work with people who are passionate about and love what they are doing.”

Before his Broadway internship, Daugherty was no stranger to the spotlight. In high school, the Connecticut native performed twice in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a musical that tells a biblical story about deception and resolution between siblings.

He has also landed background roles in “Hannah Montana: The Movie” as a skateboarder, and in “Away We Go,” a comedic film released in 2009, and showed his gymnastic skills in an MTV commercial.

“It’s culture. It’s important,” Daugherty said of his work. “I think everyone at USF should take a class in the arts at some point. Not a sit-down class where you learn, but one in which you can actively engage your body.”

Daugherty credits much of his preliminary success to Brad Diamond, a vocal professor in USF’s School of Music, and Lisa Powers, a visiting faculty member in the School of Theater and Dance who teaches voice-body improvisation.

“Brendan is a great student,” Diamond said. “(He) works incredibly hard and his enthusiasm knows no boundaries.”

One of the only boundaries facing him now is funding. Daugherty is writing grant proposals to bring “The Last Five Years,” a contemporary off-Broadway musical, to USF this spring. If funding materializes, he will act as the production’s director, producer and co-star alongside graduate student Melissa LaCicero.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his most recent endeavor, Diamond said he has high hopes for Daugherty’s career.

“He has a great zeal for life and his studies,” he said. “I have no doubt that this intense drive and energy will take him to great places.”

Daugherty said he hopes one of those places is Broadway, where he plans to work as a director and performer.

“It’s where I belong,” he said.