Robert Hickey, originally from East Stroudsburg, is the high school band director in the Warrior Run School District. He is married to Marisa S. Hickey, who was recently profiled, and they have a 6-year-old daughter, Kirsten. They met while they were both studying music education at Penn State University. He has performed with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, Williamsport Chamber Orchestra, Penn Central Wind Band, Community Theater pit musician and area high school pit orchestras.
KRISTA STORM: When and how did your interest in the performing arts begin?
ROBERT HICKEY: I began playing the clarinet in fourth grade. I had many wonderful experiences while attending the East Stroudsburg High School. I worked primarily on playing bass clarinet during high school. Throughout high school, I attended band festivals at the district, region, state and national levels. My interactions with my high school band director and all of the amazing conductors that I had the opportunity to work with helped guide me to a degree in music education. While at PSU, I studied clarinet with Smith Toulson and conducting with Dennis Glocke, Lynn Drafall and Tony Leach.
KS: Why did you start performing?
RH: For me, performing is an opportunity to share my talents and hopefully help the audience feel the emotion that can be shared through music.
KS: What do you like about performing?
RH: Sharing the experience with other performers is always fun, but hearing the audiences' reaction is the most enjoyable part of performing.
KS: What do you dislike about performing?
RH: The only part of performing I dislike is when it is over. Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to conduct the orchestra for the Act Up production of "Les Miserables." The students in the show were amazing and the area musicians that were in the orchestra were top notch. Once the last performance was over, it was very difficult to leave that wonderful experience. It will surely be one of my most memorable experiences as a musician.
KS: What show would you most like to perform?
RH: I always love performing music by Leonard Bernstein and would love to study and perform "West Side Story." OH WAIT! I get to do that this summer. This summer's Act Up show will be "West Side Story," and I couldn't be happier with the opportunity to work on this show.
KS: Do you have a favorite playwright?
RH: Mitch Albom has always had my interest. While I was in college, I read his book "Tuesdays with Morrie." Just recently the Community Theater League produced "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel." His ability to create a personal connection in his stories is what always hooks me.
KS: What show-director do you love? Why?
RH: Jason Robert Brown has written many musicals. I really like that each one of his shows is unique. The orchestrations for each of his shows are completely different and help elevate the lyrics in each song.
KS: What is the best production-theatre experience you have had?
RH: I have had many different performing opportunities. I have had the pleasure of performing in concert bands, marching bands, orchestras, woodwind quintets, jazz bands and many choral opportunities. The experiences that are at the top of the list must be singing with Essence of Joy (EOJ) and the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers (EOJAS). We perform music from the African-American tradition of spirituals and gospel. While in college, we toured the Deep South and had the opportunity to visit Ebenezer Baptist Church. It is the church that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached at. While in the church, the National Park Service worker asked what brought us to the church. He then asked us to sing. Our impromptu concert was attended by less than 10 people and has been my most emotional performance. Had it not been for people like Dr. King and the work that he did, groups like EOJ and EOJAS would not exist. I cherish every opportunity I get to perform with EOJAS.
KS: What do you like about performing here in Williamsport?
RH: I really love that there are so many opportunities to perform here in Williamsport. There are so many different venues that anyone can always find something that will interest them. The audiences here are always so appreciative.
KS: What is your favorite role that you have performed?
RH: I loved playing in the pit for "Urinetown" at CTL and a year later at South Williamsport High School. The pit only calls for five musicians. The woodwind book calls for soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet. It took me a while to prepare the music and I loved every minute of it. I would gladly play this show again and again.
KS: What role-play would you like to do next?
RH: I would really like to play or conduct "Parade" written by Jason Robert Brown.
KS: If you could work with anyone, living or dead, famous or not, with whom would you like to work?
RH: I am looking forward to the day when Marisa, Kirsten and I can all work together.
KS: Who would play you on stage or in film? What kind of production would it be?
RH: Meryl Streep is an amazing actor. I'm sure with some movie magic, she would be wonderful.