Denise Prosek, co-founder and Music Director for Theater Latté Da, not only wants the cast and orchestra to learn the notes as written in a musical theater score, but also how to be honest with their sound and performance. Musicals, Prosek confides, are not always about singing pretty. What is sung must expose the emotional underpinnings of the characters and so imbuing a song or phrase with the appropriate expression, regardless of the effect on the purity of sound, is of the utmost importance. Since creating Latté Da with Peter Rothstein in 1998, the duo have worked in tandem to use musical theater as a vehicle to reveal the complexity of the human condition, work that has received consistent awards and recognition.
Prosek graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from St. Olaf College, but was drawn to musicals by the passion and contemporary themes reflected in the genre. While often denigrated, musical theater demands the same technique as classical music but comes with greater freedoms to interpret and reimagine what is written. Whether in her extensive work with Theater Latté Da or when music directing productions for companies including The Children’s Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Mu Performing Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust, Prosek has applied this freedom to inventive reochestrations and vocal arrangements to published scores. In an ambition to create new work, she recently founded Prosody, a group that pairs composers and lyricists to write original cabaret songs, songs characterized as relaying a complete story in one piece of music.
Prosek was one of three musical theater artists to receive the McKnight Theater Artist fellowship in June 2013.