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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

SIU-Edwardsville student finds himself star of the show

Michael Hawkins, of Belleville, recently switched his major to musical theater, but he doesn't regret one minute of opera singing.

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student had a blast training, performing and traveling with Opera Theatre of St. Louis for two years.

"They opened a whole new world for me," he said. "I didn't know anything about opera, and I wanted to explore it and see where it would take me."

Hawkins, 20, a sophomore, was sitting in a hallway outside Dunham Hall, where he was practicing for an SIUE production of the musical "Songs for a New World."

The director was associate music professor Mark...