Stephen F. Austin State University

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Hudson's organizational skills keep opera productions on track

April 7, 2015 - Robbie Goodrich
SFA voice instructor Nita Hudson works with some of the cast members of "The Most Happy Fella" in perfecting one of the dance numbers for Frank Loesser's musical comedy to be presented by SFA Opera Theater at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 9 through 11, in Turner Auditorium.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Nita Hudson has one of "those" kinds of minds. She's organized, meticulous and detail-oriented. She thrives on planning and scheduling, which means her projects meet deadlines. No duty is too difficult; no responsibility is too great. She makes sure people are where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing.

That's why she is slightly annoying (in a good way) and thoroughly endearing (in the best way) as assistant director, production stage manager and properties manager for Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music's annual opera theater production.

Hudson, who has taught voice, opera and vocal literature at SFA for 21 years, is working on her 49th opera production with SFA Opera Theater's presentation of Frank Loesser's "The Most Happy Fella." The musical comedy will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 9 through 11, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus.

"She likes to be organized," Debbie Dalton, associate professor of voice at SFA and director of the opera, said of her right-hand person, "and she does things so quickly. That's the way her mind works."

In earlier years, Hudson was exposed through family members to Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-Step Program. She took what she observed and learned how to tweak the program concepts to help her organize, prioritize and meet deadlines, mostly by "taking one day at a time," she said.

"And I depend on God," Hudson said, adding that praying about problems and for people, along with relying on daily devotionals, helps her get the day started and keeps her focused.

A proud SFA alumna, Hudson jokingly said she sees herself as "one of God's little secret agents," working behind the scenes to "sprinkle a little joy here and a little motivation there."

"I just want to give back to SFA what SFA gave to me," she said.

Her organizational skills extend beyond the annual opera production and into her everyday performance as a School of Music faculty member.

"Oh boy, what doesn't she do?" Dalton said. Hudson organizes logistics for SFA's vocal program, including scheduling rooms to be used for studio classes; compiling meeting, recital, touring and competition schedules for an all-inclusive vocal calendar; and scheduling accompanists for opera auditions and end-of-semester vocal juries. She assists the director of the School of Music in presenting the annual Friends of Music Extravaganza by coordinating the scholarship awards; directing the opera selection performed at the event; coordinating lighting; and staging ensembles, instruments and props for performances.

Further evidence of Hudson's multi-tasking talents can be seen in her ability to successfully manage two other jobs, including directing the adult choir at Christ Episcopal Church and working as a long-time medical records and transcriptions clerk at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, where she jokingly describes herself as "the stage manager of medical records." Hudson began working at Memorial in the mid-1980s as an undergraduate student at SFA. She has a Bachelor of Music degree with teacher certification and master's in music, both from SFA. She taught at East Texas Baptist University for about 10 years while she also worked at SFA.

Hudson has solely taken on the task of collecting all the props for "The Most Happy Fella," because "she knows it will be done right," Dalton said.

In addition to all the duties she juggles with the opera production, Hudson, who had 17 years of dance training, also has taken on the job of choreographer for "The Most Happy Fella."

"With training as a singer and dancer, I know how to make the choreography easy to dance to while singing," she said, "and I want to make their bodies look like what their voices sound like."

"I used to think she was bossy and wanted to control everything, and maybe some of that is true," Dalton said with a laugh. "But having everything organized and under control gives her comfort, and it sure comforts me, because I don't have to crowd my brain with those details."

Hudson's desire to get things done quickly comes, in part, from simply wanting to help others, Dalton said.

"She's just kind and caring and passionate about everything she does," Dalton said, " … a big heart in a little bitty person."

This production, which is a presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music as part of the University Series "Connect," is sponsored in part by Point A Media. Prior to Thursday's opening night performance, Dalton will give a 7 p.m. informative talk in Griffith Gallery, located across the hall from Turner Auditorium.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7.50 for students. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

Turner Auditorium is located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive.