George Mason University

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Graduation profile: Dylan Toms found himself in the lead at Mason

December 18, 2018   /   by Mary Lee Clark

"Mason pushed me to become a performer I had no idea I could be."

Dylan Tomas

In four and a half years at Mason, Dylan Toms has played the lead in three musicals and five operas. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

Music major Dylan Toms said his most memorable performance at George Mason University was when, as a freshman, he played the leading role in the musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Little did he know that it would be the first of many leading roles during his time at the university.

Over the past four and a half years, Toms, an Honors College student who is graduating on Dec. 20, has played the lead in three musicals and five operas. Besides “Drood,” he appeared in the musicals “Threepenny Opera” and “The Gondoliers” and in the operas “La Vie de Bohéme,” “Albert Herring” and, most recently, “Dido and Aeneas.”

“Mason has pushed me to become a performer I had no idea I could be,” Toms said.

When Toms was a junior starring in “Threepenny Opera,” in which he played Macheath, London’s most notorious criminal, local theater critic David Siegel wrote of him in DC Metro Theater Arts: “From the moment he steps into view with white gloves, white spats, and an altogether dapper mien, [Toms] gives off shivers with his smooth, slick, sneering performance. His solos and duets are spot-on.”

Toms, from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, got his first taste of performance in his elementary school’s production of “The Polar Express.” Though his middle and high schools did not have theater programs, he participated in community theater with the Little Town Players in Bedford.

Dylan Tomas as the wicked John Jasper in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." Promotional photo.

Toms visited Mason during his sophomore year of high school and was able to catch a dress rehearsal of Mason’s mainstage show “The Merchant.” From then on, he said, he couldn’t imagine going to any other university.

“This program has kept me on my toes for four and a half years,” Toms said of his time at Mason. “I am so grateful for that because I truly believe I can go into the real world with so much more experience than I had before.”

Toms started in Mason’s theater program but found his place in musical theater. He attributes his success and progress to his voice teacher John Aler, associate professor in the School of Music.

“[Toms is] very eager to learn and experience new avenues of ways to be expressive,” Aler said. “He works extremely hard and is always prepared, and he never misses a chance to perform. He is a teacher's dream student.”

Toms said he was inspired by his fellow classmates and Mason’s proximity to Washington, D.C.’s booming music and theater scene. He frequently visited Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, with Mason Cabaret, which is run by Erin Gardiner, an adjunct faculty member in Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, and James Gardiner, deputy director of creative content and publicity at Signature Theatre, respectively.

After graduation Toms plans to move to New York City and pursue a career in musical theater.