Hometown to footlights, Meddock details her ‘crazy educational journey’
Often the path to success, however you define it, is riddled with twists, turns, and even detours.
One Sheffield Area High School graduate knew what direction she was headed at an early age, and the signs along her path kept pointing her straight ahead — landing her in New York City.
Devon Meddock recently performed in the 1,000th performance of “The Imbible: A Spirited Hi
Meddock is the lead soprano and vocal captain of the long-running show.
When she isn’t filling her role in the Off-Broadway show, she works as an actor, instrumentalist, adjunct professor of voice at New York University, and maintains a private music studio in New York City.
“The Imbible is a hilarious show at New World Stages about the history of alcohol and its influence on humanity,” Meddock said of the show that has entertained more than 1,000 audiences. “Each scene takes place in a different stage in history and the audience is served three corresponding craft cocktails.”
“It is a small cast of only four so we have this beautiful family of actors, covers, understudies and stage managers that extends to the other shows in the theatre (like Jersey Boys) and the New World Stages staff,” she said. “I am fortunate enough to be the vocal captain, which means I lead all the music rehearsals and teach all the new covers the music for all of our shows, including our matinee show — Day Drinking.”
“I get to teach at NYU all day and then perform nearly every night in the theatre district,” she said. “It’s great.”
When it comes to greatness, she can’t pick between her day job and night jobs.
“I am so thankful to be able to do and, most importantly love, both,” she said.
“I find immeasurable joy both as a performer and as an educator. I can’t imagine my life without either of them,” she said. “Performing gives me such a thrill and a sense of passion, so there is something so exciting about being able to pass that passion and knowledge on to others.”
Meddock said she started learning about music from as early as she can remember.
“Both my parents are natural teachers,” she said. “I think I was just born a musician and a musical soul and was lucky enough to have parents that fostered that in me from a young age.”
“I’ve always been singing; I don’t really remember a time when it wasn’t a huge part of my identity,” she said. “My mother, Kim Wren, was a behavior therapist so instead of watching cartoons, we would watch any musical we could get our hands on.”
“We still have every Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber VHS — yes, VHS,” she said. “Probably before I could form my own sentences I knew the words to Oklahoma!, Cats, and My Fair Lady.”
“For me there was never anything BUT music,” she said. “I loved and excelled in other things in high school. Shout out to Sheffield’s physics and english programs.”
“My dad, Marty Meddock, spent his career as a scientist and would help me with my chemistry and physics homework every night,” she said. “My senior year of high school our physics team won nationals and I had some scholarship offers for physics, but my dad always knew that music was in my heart and he supported every minute of it. He never missed a performance, drove me back and forth to every lesson and enabled me to go to the best schools in the world.”
There was a time when Meddock thought she might pursue a career solely in music education but her role in a local tradition affirmed her love of performing.
“I always thought I would go into music education because I am an instrumentalist as well and because that seemed ‘safer,'” she said. “But when I tried out for my first All County Musical as a 15-year-old sophomore in high school and was cast as Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, I knew that performing was something I could never live without.”
“The All-County Musicals changed my life, and still do to this day,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to be the lead in both my sophomore and senior year of high school, and now few things give me more pure joy than coming home and working with the cast of Newsies or any other musical they have that year.”
“The All-County Musicals were my first taste of performing in musical theatre.” she said. “I have to believe my life would be different if Warren did not have such an amazing opportunity with so much community support.”
Meddock offered advice to anyone aspiring to any career in the arts — follow your own path and learn from many teachers along the way.
“I’ve been blessed to have the most amazing music teachers in my life including Kathy Bowley, Aaron Smith, Sarah Korchak, Roz Hupp and Marcia White, not to mention the phenomenal professors I’ve had at Mercyhurst and NYU,” she said.
“Everyone’s path is different,” she said. “If someone had told me five years ago that this would be my life now, I couldn’t have imagined it.”
“I started school at Baldwin Wallace for Musical Theatre, where I also minored in physics, and then transferred to Mercyhurst to study voice and opera with the incomparable Louisa Jonason,” she said. “At Mercyhurst I was able to have secondary instruments in trumpet and piano — skills which I use every day now — and I minored in English and Theatre.”
“I then went straight into my Master’s Degree in Music Theatre — Vocal Performance — and then my post-master’s Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy at New York University,” she said. “It was a crazy educational journey, and everyone does this differently.”
“The one thing you have to learn as you begin this journey in the arts is to be kind,” she said. “Be the person everyone wants to work with. Be on time. Be prepared (for anything!) and bring your full energy and open heart to every rehearsal and audition.”
“Singers, if you’re planning a career in the arts, take piano lessons. I can’t stress this enough,” she said. “You will walk into a room of 300 people that look exactly like you and if you are the best musician, you will naturally rise to the top.”
“Also, don’t ever let someone tell you not to pursue the arts because there is no future in it, because there clearly is,” she said.