How Halle Mitchell (’23) Spends a Monday on Campus

Name: Halle Mitchell

Hometown: Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Class Year: 2023

Musical Groups: Katzenjammers (music director), Triangle Club (conductor), Playhouse Choir (student conductor), Princeton University Players (music manager on PUP board; currently music director of Little Women), Glee Club (member)


Spot(ify) the trend. I usually wake up pretty late. Today I’m up at 10:30 and out the door by 10:50 for my first class, which is at 11. I start the day with my Statistics and Machine Learning class, Research Projects in Data Science. It’s a project-based class where we’re building to this big, final project. I’m a musical theater kid – I’m writing a musical for my senior thesis – so, for my project, I’m focusing on data analysis and predictions around musical theater soundtracks using the Spotify API. I want to see if there’s a way to predict success based on certain quantitative features. I’m hoping to expand upon this for my independent research for the certificate, too.

Coffee & grind. After class, I head to Tower, one of the eating clubs, for lunch. I didn’t have breakfast today – I usually don’t unless I’m getting up early to do work. I’ll get some coffee, too. On Mondays, I have 12:30 to 4:30 free. Lately, I’ve found myself using this time to write my thesis, a musical loosely based on the social theory that everyone has three archetypal loves in their life. I’m writing the music and lyrics and will be doing orchestrations as well. For now, I’m working on revising the draft of the piano-vocal version of the musical. An hour or two of work on a Monday afternoon might mean writing the second half of a song that I got an idea for the previous night, or going back and listening to a recording of myself that I made and actually notating it out in the Finale. (Big shoutout to Donnacha Dennehy, who has been my wonderful thesis advisor throughout the process!) I’m not going to work on my thesis today, though. Instead, I’m heading over to Woolworth to record some grad school auditions. 

Audition season. I want to make my career in musical theater and music directing, so right now I’m looking into grad school programs that can help me develop my skills in a more formal sense. I’ve been working on preparing for my piano-based auditions. They’re intended to show off various piano skills, especially ones that demonstrate skill as an accompanist and as an arranger. I’ve also been preparing supplemental videotapes of me in action working with ensembles and conducting. I’ve been working with groups that I’m involved with on campus to schedule mock rehearsals so I can prepare these skills and get videotapes that fit the format – rehearsal videos and performance videos. Today, I’m using my free time to record myself at the piano playing through musical theater repertoire.

Gluv. 4:30 is Glee. I have rehearsals every afternoon: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are Glee from 4:30-6:30, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are Playhouse Choir, also at 4:30. I also do a lot of theater on campus. I’m the music director for a PUP show called Little Women, and I was the conductor for the recent Triangle show. But I don’t have any of those rehearsals on Monday – it’s too busy! I’ve been in Glee Club since freshman year. I did the whole COVID-era socially distanced “Glee pods.” Right now, I’m really excited to be working on songs from Holst’s The Planets. It’s been really great working with Gabriel [Crouch] on this music and I’m excited to perform it with the Princeton University Orchestra soon!

Forbidden Fruit. At 6:30 I’m headed back to Tower for dinner. It’s a quick one because at 7:30 I have a night class: Actor-Musicianship. It’s taught by John Doyle, who was a big pioneer in actor-musicianship as a practice in musical theater, meaning performers who are playing instruments either in an accompanying way or in a way that’s otherwise aiding the narrative. Today, we’re presenting songs that we directed over the past week. Mine is “Forbidden Fruit” from The Apple Tree, an older Bock and Harnick show (much lesser known than Fiddler on the Roof). In my staging, the Biblical snake who’s tempting Eve is playing an instrument and there are also a few other actor-musicians on stage. Eve doesn’t have an instrument, and they’re all tempting her with this grandeur of being actor-musicians. They’re flaunting it. Eventually, they pressure her into playing something, so now she’s acquired this sort of “knowledge,” but she now has to bear the burden of being an actor-musician through the rest of the show. I’m also performing in a few other groups’ songs. That class goes on till 10 pm.

A night of mixed company. Next is Katzenjammers rehearsal. The KJs is my acapella group, and I’ve been the music director for two years. We’re having elections in December, though, so I’ll no longer be MD after that. We just had a really big concert last night, a collaboration with Roaring 20, another mixed-voice group on campus, where we debuted two new arrangements that I had arranged for the group, “The Girl from Ipanema” and a medley of music from The Incredibles, so tonight’s rehearsal is a little more chill. Rehearsal usually goes until 11 or 11:30, but we end earlier than that tonight.

Danger lurks nearby. I frequent Wawa in the late hours of the evening because I live really close by. It’s very dangerous to have that so close and for it to be open 24 hours! Before bed, my roommate and I might watch an episode of something. We’ve recently been watching Good Omens. It’s a show about this devil and an angel just before Armageddon, and neither of them really wants to leave Earth. They just want to keep vibing. So they’re trying to figure out how to stop Armageddon. The show has David Tennant in it. I’m a big fan of his. We’ll watch, like, half an episode or an episode, and then I’ll get ready for bed. I often stay up until 1:30 or 2, which is fine because I wake up late. 

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