“Tomorrow” and Beyond: a Marymount Manhattan Commencement Story

June 10, 2014
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    Josephine Ancelle '14, Valedictorian, addresses the audience
    Joe Vericker/PhotoBureau
During Marymount Manhattan’s commencement ceremony on May 23, 2014, something strange and wonderful happened. During Josephine Ancelle’s valedictory address, she broke into song – and then, spontaneously, was joined by her fellow graduates seated before her. The song? “Tomorrow,” from the musical Annie.
Annie features music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, both of whom have longstanding ties to MMC. Charles and Barbara Strouse have been friends of MMC since 1998, having lent their time and talent to three musicals with MMC students: “Can’t Stop Dancin’,” “An American Tragedy,” and “Rags,” for which Charles wrote the music and Barbara directed. Additionally, Martin Charnin will be working on his newest show, “Robin Hood,” with MMC students in January 2015.

Charles Strouse’s granddaughter was one of the graduating seniors, and Martin Charnin recently taught a master class on campus.

Said Josephine: “I thought I’d be only singing the beginning [of the song], and in French.”

Then, however, the graduates started joining in, without any prompt or warning, and starting carrying the tune along in English.

“I could see the smiles, and people looked around like, ‘What is happening?’” Josephine said. “I had no idea of the connections when I wrote the valedictory address. When I had first starting writing the speech, Professor Hunter suggested I do a little singing as well. I loved Annie growing up, and the title seemed apropos. I was concerned it may have been a little cheesy, but I received feedback from some friends, and they all loved it.”

As it turned out, Charles’ son, Nicholas, was in attendance, as it was his daughter’s graduation as well. After the ceremony, Professor Hunter introduced Josephine to Nicholas Strouse. He told Josephine how moved he was by what had transpired. He then arranged for Josephine to meet Charles at his New York City apartment.

Said Josephine: “He was so kind and humble and moved that the whole room knew the song and sang it. He shared many sweet stories and it was such a meaningful and memorable moment for me.”

Martin Charnin was later shown a video of the valedictory speech and its impromptu breakout song, and was equally moved by the experience.

“To know that now Martin Charnin saw the video as well and was moved by it is an honor,” Josephine said. “Marymount Manhattan is such a special university. I don’t think that many universities would have had the spirit and heart that the whole room had when we sang the song together. There was so much talent in that room that it shone beyond the walls of Avery Fisher Hall!”


Click here to read the Valedictory Address from Josephine Ancelle ‘14

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