Musical theater is a passion of Michael Buchanan '99. Even before enrolling at Puget Sound, he wanted to make it a part of his life. That is exactly what he has done. Brilliantly.
Michael graduated from Puget Sound with a degree in vocal performance, studying with Tom Goleeke. He was one of the founding members of Underground Jazz, which today has morphed into Underground Sound. At Puget Sound he was in a number of campus productions, such as Guys and Dolls and The Tenderland, but his stage work went beyond campus through work in summer stock at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse and elsewhere. After graduating and doing another summer season at Big Fork, he packed up his car and began the life of a peripatetic artist, taking work at theater after theater and sending videos around the country, looking for a break. Michael did regional theater around the country, and eventually decided to move with a friend to Los Angeles. When an opportunity arose in 2001 to move to New York City, he took it. He began working in small productions in the region and soon attracted the attention of management. From there things have simply kept going up.
Some of Michael’s credits: A two-year national tour of Miss Saigon; performances in Hair, Urinetown, The Fantastiks, West Side Story, Pirates of Penzance, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Kiss Me, Kate, White Noise, Go-Go Beach, The Cure, Fat Camp, Forever Plaid, The Addams Family, and Cry-Baby; appearances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Guthrie and Mercury theaters in Chicago, and the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.
Michael was part of first national tour of The Book of Mormon, and currently is booked in theaters across the United States and Canada through this coming August. Learn more about his upcoming performances via his YouTube Channel and website.
In 2006 as a cast member in the Chicago-based production of Urinetown, Michael won the “Jeff Award” for Principal Role in a Musical. At the pace he is going, it will be one of many accolades in his unfolding career.
Philip Cutlip '88: "Papageno...Cutlip had it all. A powerful baritone, evenly matched in all registers, he was as light on his feet as he was vocally agile." So wrote Michael Huebner of the Birmingham News of baritone Philip Cutlip in a performance of Mozart's opera, Die Zauberflöte. It is one example of the praise critics and audiences have given Philip in performances here and abroad. Since his graduation from Puget Sound, Philip has firmly established himself as one of the leading concert artists of his generation. He has had leading operatic roles among national companies that include the San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Utah Opera, Seattle Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Arizona Opera. With a repertoire that extends from Bach and Handel to Bernstein and Stravinsky, Philip has appeared with many of the leading orchestras in the United States including the Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Detroit, Utah, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and National Symphonies, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and others. He has soloed with the Boston Handel & Haydn Society, Washington Bach Consort, Dallas Bach Society, and the Oratorio Society of New York (at Carnegie Hall). International performances have included engagements in Banff, Barcelona, Göttingen, and Beijing. Philip also has collaborated with some of the pre-eminent dance companies and avant-garde ensembles of our time. In addition to performing with the New York City Ballet in interpretations of songs by Charles Ives, he has toured internationally with the Hamburg Ballet singing Bernstein's Dances, giving performances in Hamburg, Baden-Baden and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. He has appeared on European and American tours of Philip Glass's Les enfants Terribles, including the world premiere in Zug, Switzerland, and his performance in the Seattle Opera production of The End of the Affair received high praise in a review by Opera News.
Following a performance by the Philipharmonia Baroque, Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Of the vocalists, ... the standout was baritone Philip Cutlip, whose stalwart tone, effortless precision and fluent phrasing were a constant delight. His final aria, ‘Consider this, misguided man' - which combines the dreariest verbal moralism with Haydn's most inspired vocal writing - was breathtaking."
"My time at UPS shaped me in so many ways," writes Philip. "It gave me a love for learning, a love for knowledge that I have never lost. As a musician, I attended a very specialized graduate school, and make my living in a rather specialized field. But my intellectual life is a rich one, fed from many springs, and this rich variety feeds my abilities as an artist. I give tribute and credit to UPS for laying the foundation for my life as an artist."
Robert McPhearson '91:"I'm as local as you can get." While that may speak to growing up in Federal Way, Rob McPherson has gone well beyond his Pacific Northwest roots, now singing opera roles here and abroad. His story with Puget Sound begins two years before he matriculated, studying voice with Thomas Goleeke. While at Puget Sound he was a member of the Adelphian Concert Choir and participated in opera scenes recitals. Rob also became involved with theater productions both on and off campus, including a memorable portrayal of Mozart in the campus production of Peter Shaffer's play, Amadeus.
After graduation Rob initially stayed in the Seattle area, doing both concert and theater work. He started working more on the West Coast, expanded to smaller houses across U.S., and now enjoys an international performance career. He has had leading roles at the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York (his Carnegie Hall debut), Utah Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera San Jose, Opera Santa Barbara, Greensboro Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera (In the Park productions and covers for multiple productions annually). Internationally, he has performed with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Opéra-Théâtre d'Avignon, Opéra de Toulon, New Israeli Opera, Polish National Opera, Stadttheater Bern, Pacific Opera Victoria, and other companies.
Rob has specialized to great success in fiendishly high and difficult music, such as that found in the roles of Arnold in Guillaume Tell, Ramiro in La cenerentola, and Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri. He has been hailed by the New York Times for his "robust voice, agility and confidence." The Washington Post felt he "brought a clear, confident voice and a deft comic touch" to his role in L'italiana in Algeri. "He navigated Rossini's daunting pyrotechnics," continues the review, "with style and finesse."
Rob also has enjoyed recognition on the concert stage. He has joined the Seattle Symphony for performances of Handel's Messiah, and he made his national television debut on PBS as the angel Gabriel in Andrew T. Miller's sacred cantata, The Birth of Christ, recorded in Dublin, Ireland and released by Sony BMG Masterworks. He recently reprised that role in Rome at the special invitation of the Vatican.
A career now in full swing, Rob usually is booked at least one year in advance. He now splits his time between his Washington base in Federal Way and New York City - that is, when he is not on the stage.
Other alumni active in performance:
Ryan Bede '05, Baritone: Freelance artist performing with regional opera companies and festivals in the Pacific Northwest, vocal instructor in Bellevue and Tacoma