BY CARY GINELL
He’s hard to miss on stage. A husky, ever-smiling youngster with bright red hair and a big voice. Nicholas Glaab recently graduated from Newbury Park High School and will be missed for his exuberant presence at John Sargent’s regular choir concerts as well as acting in such shows as High Noonish and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was clear from the moment we first saw him that Nick really loves singing and we weren’t surprised to find out that he would continue studying vocal performance in college after graduation. We visited with him recently and found out more about Nick and his future plans.
VCOS: Watching you for the past few years, we naturally wondered which came first, the singing or the acting?
NICK: Actually, the acting came first. My parents first put me in a production of Beauty and the Beast when I was about five years old. I was in the choir ensemble and I just loved singing, so after that, when I was seven, I started getting into more plays and musicals, and then at nine years old, my parents put me in the Los Robles Children’s Choir, and that’s where I really started to enjoy singing and spawned my love for choir music. Ever since then, I’ve done both equally.
VCOS: Do you take singing lessons?
NICK: Yes, for about a year-and-a-half.
VCOS: Is there a particular kind of music you like best?
NICK: I love classical music, all the arias and motets, stuff like that, but I also really enjoy old musical theater.
VCOS: When you arrived at NPHS, did you get into the choir program first or the musical theater?
NICK: I was in the choir program from the first semester of my freshman year.
VCOS: I’ve interviewed a lot of kids at NPHS, but I never really focused on Sarge [choir director John Sargent]. Tell me about working with him.
NICK: Everyone just really enjoys him. He has this really friendly presence and he’s really easy to work with. He’ll make jokes, he’ll play around and give us fun songs to sing, but he’ll also challenge us. That’s really why kids enjoy Newbury Park’s choir program. We do a lot of challenging music and Sarge is really good at picking out songs to challenge us as well as songs for us to enjoy singing any time of the day. We do religious songs, we do musicals, we do old folk songs, it’s just a blast and Sarge really makes it fun.
VCOS: What did he challenge you with, specifically?
NICK: Well, for the last two years, I was part of the Chamber Singers, and that’s been kind of the top group in the program. For our Christmas and our spring concerts, every choir has to sing a song that’s not in English. For the Chamber Singers, it would be in French, German, Hebrew, and he really gives us music from all over the world. We usually have someone who speaks the language that we’re learning and he brings that person in and they talk to us about what the lyrics are saying, the meaning of the song and how to pronounce the words.
VCOS: What kind of roles do you enjoy playing most in the plays and musicals?
NICK: Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved the fun, easy-going roles where I get to have fun improvising. But a couple of years ago, I was in Sweeney Todd, which is so dark and malevolent, and that changed the way I thought. I love playing those dark characters because it’s something I can’t be in real life. Doing that was a lot of fun, going out of my comfort zone.
VCOS: So do you think you might excel at playing heavies as you go forward. I could see you as Jud in Oklahoma!
NICK: That’s what my voice teacher keeps telling me to do. When I started choir at Newbury Park, I was a tenor, but since then, I’ve been singing bass.
VCOS: You sang “Anthem” from Chess at your last choir concert and that really brought that out.
NICK: Yes, that song goes relatively low but also goes into the tenor range. But this last year, I sang with the baritones as well, which really is the best of both worlds.
VCOS: Now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?
NICK: I’m going to Chapman University where I’ll be majoring in vocal performance, but I will be doing some theater over there, too.
VCOS: Do you have any other mentors who have helped you in your performing besides Sarge?
NICK: I did some sessions with Don Grady, do you remember him? From My Three Sons?
VCOS: Yes, Don was a friend of mine and I really enjoyed getting to know him before he passed away a few years ago.
NICK: I did some singing with him and he was awesome to work with. His wife Ginny was also my acting mentor and she’s great, too. My private coach, Jim Wilber, is the choir director at Disneyland and he pushes me to sing higher and get my range up so that I can sing more varied songs.
VCOS: Do you have any long-term goals for after college?
NICK: I actually want to go into composing for film. Over the last year, I’ve really started to branch out into composing for piano. In the last few weeks I got into film composing and did some interviews with some people in the film industry and it’s a place where I’d really love to be, but I wouldn’t pass up any acting opportunities either!
VCOS: What kind of projects do you think you might work on?
NICK: I think I’ll do more live action composing, but when I get to Chapman, I’d like to collaborate with other composers at the Dodge College students over there.
VCOS: You’ll have to look my son up. He works in sound editing, among other things over at Dodge and is a big film music fan.
NICK: I’ll definitely do that!