There’s nothing Diva-like about her, actually. It’s a nickname she was given by a fellow performer at La Comedia years ago, and it stuck. Her office at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music was adorned with gifts people had given her that said “Diva” on them. (There were also a lot of random cow-related items, which just adds to her quirky wonderfulness.)
She pops out from the other room, accordion strapped to her chest, barefoot, and hair still fancy from her recital. Mayzie, the dog, is at her feet, but Pat is ready to perform for us. Of course. I expect nothing less from “The Diva.”
Her gorgeous living room walls are adorned with gorgeous art. There’s a loft, which houses the computer, and a grand piano as the room’s centerpiece. We wait for Denny, Pat’s husband, to finish the pork tenderloin on the grill so we could eat. Conversations mostly center around the theatre and memories of the past. It is an eclectic group; of course it is. Among the group are friends from college, Pat’s brother and his family from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a local musical director (and former cast mate of Pat’s), her musician-husband, their friend, Pat’s hairdresser – and me. We’re comfortable, the tone is casual, and everyone is having the best time. Of course we are.
I’m a huge fan.
I met Pat before or after a show at CCM, when she diligently showed support for her students from the audience. For a while, it seemed that every time I went somewhere, I saw her. We sat next to each other at an acapella concert and got to dish. And, of course, there were the faculty recitals, where she took the stage year after year and role-modeled for her students exactly how to entertain an audience.
“Usually we sing, but sometimes we do therapy.” I had interrupted a conversation Pat was having with one of her students, a drama major taking private lessons with The Diva. “I’m a shrink and a voice teacher.”
Not officially, of course. Her educational background was not in psychology, but her reputation as one of the most supportive educators in all of CCM is well-known.
Pat Linhart may be one of the most influential teachers I encountered at CCM. She took every student under her wing and made her office a safe space to really learn and grow. Not just vocally, but as a human as well. I had just as many voice lessons that were technical as I had voice lessons that were inspirational. She makes every student feel like a superhero – like they have worth. You can’t not come out of her office feeling better for having been there.
I also had the privilege of being an accompanist for other students’ lessons with Pat. I would play the second half-hour of each hour-long lesson, sometimes 4 lessons back to back. I was always so exhausted during my time at CCM, I normally had class from 9 am to 11 pm, and only then could start my homework, often memorizing multiple songs, scenes, and monologues while writing an essay or two. Pat would let me take 20-minute naps on her couch when I wasn’t playing.
I became an expert at napping for 20 minutes, playing for 30 minutes, and repeating for hours on end. One of my favorite things about Pat is the fact that she keeps up with many of her students for years or even decades. She cares so much about every person that comes into her room, and sometimes that spills over beyond graduation. She wants to see her students succeed, and she is always there to be a voice of support when needed. I have seen her travel across the country to help out former students in many different ways over the years. I know that if I needed a vocal expert to help me out when I’m up against a wall, I could call her and she would not only be on Zoom immediately, she might just fly out and see the show. She is a rare gem in this difficult industry.
Oh! One other fun tidbit. Whenever I was an accompanist for her, she called me “Maestro” as a sign of respect. She did this for all of her accompanists. It’s a word that is hardly used these days. She went by Diva, but she took the time to call me Maestro. When I graduated, she bought me a set of 20 pencils with the word Maestro on the side. I only ever used one. I keep the others in a drawer of important notes and mementos.
– Eric Huffman
One of Pat’s sophomore students, Jack D’Angelo, arrives for his 11:30 am voice lesson. Pat stands behind the piano. He drops his bag on the floor. Then, they get right to business. As he began to sing, Pat gently guides him out of his head and neck and into a relaxed posture. She helps him find a more comfortable and natural singing space. She is encouraging, affirming, and honest. Her vocal analysis includes talk of “the ladies” and a discussion of adding weight to tones that don’t require any.
There’s also talk about where to get his COVID vaccine. Discussion about some sort of secret T-shirt order and planning for their remaining time together over the last three weeks of the year. She compliments his hair. He borrows a bottle of water. She says he probably owes her a case. He agrees. She doesn’t really care.
They get back to it, and she gives one significant directive: “Be as cocky as you’ve ever been.” They high-five each other. “Cocky is the answer,” he says.
“To perform the G, I probably need to do a B flat,” Jack says. Pat agrees.
He cracks, which happens to every singer, especially in lessons. “Don’t chicken out on me,” she says. He can’t quite get it, but she stops and gently and nurturing tells him to just chill for a minute.”
They move to a different vocal exercise. He’s nailing it. His confidence improves. Get where you can see your face in the mirror. Put your chin in the sock drawer. You don’t need it.”
He nails the note. Pat is as happy as he is. She mentions a tenor from the Lawerence Welk show, something Jack – at his young age – should have no actual knowledge of. Pat starts talking in a funny accent. Jack responds with one of his own. They are having a blast.
“They’re obsessed with high notes,” Pat says to me, they being the collective group of students she teaches. “But we want a beautiful tone throughout the register.”
Jack then sings “Talent” from “Road Show” by Sondheim, the music in his headphones. He’s working on this for his VoCo class. Pat motions to her chin, giving him a signal. She has him rest flat against her door, arms outstretched so that he’s completely open. “And you just don’t have a jaw,” she said to get him to stop doing whatever he was doing before. Then he sings a song from “Bandstand,” which he will sing for his boards in a few weeks. Finally, he tries to sing “Proud Lady,” from Stephen Schwartz’s “The Baker’s Wife,” but his track doesn’t work, so he moves to the piano and plays a song he’s going to sing for K. Jenny Jone’s class.
They get so much done in an hour. I suspect it never feels like work.
Pat offers him to look through her book collection on his way out the door. She’s giving them away, so she doesn’t have to cart them home to Indiana. It’s a bittersweet reminder that she is closing up shop.
Pat was really an incredible teacher. After coming off of a rough year vocally, she really changed the way I thought about my own technique. Because of her, I pushed past some personal barriers and really started to unlock my voice. Not only is she and incredible teacher but an incredible person. Not just from personal experience, but, if ever you were having a rough day, she would always be able to talk. She is incredibly caring, and made sophomore year so much easier.
– Jack D’Angelo
Patricia Takala started substitute teaching in Denmark, WI, just outside of Green Bay after an attempt at becoming the next big opera star in Europe. The regular junior high and high school teacher was having a baby so she filled in for the semester. “That’s where I learned that I didn’t to teach high school and junior high music,” she quips.
Because it was a rural community, she would hear things from her students like “I can’t come to the concert because we have to pick rocks out of the field before we plow.” These giant farm children were lovely, but it just wasn’t her thing. So, she asked for a couple of days off to travel to Cincinnati to audition for CCM.
The principal told her that if she got her Master’s Degree he could not hire her to work there, as they wouldn’t be able to afford her. “That was kind of the point,” she says with a wry smile.
Her friends Mark and Ted told her that she should audition for Lucille Evans, an opera goddess teaching at CCM. So, Pat sang for her. And Ms. Evans told her she would accept her into her studio. Pat walked down to Dean Riley’s office to enroll.
“Who do the Evans’ think they are?!” He was not happy. “That’s not how we do things. You must audition for the entire faculty first.” Pat suggested he go get them. Somehow she persuaded him enough that she was able to sing for the group in the Bauer Room at CCM.
“Unfortunately, we don’t feel you are the caliber of student we accept into our Masters Program.” The words no one ever wants to hear. Pat burst into tears. “Fine, fine, we’ll take you.” She wiped her eyes and said, “Thank you. Now, I have no way to pay for school, so I’ll need a scholarship.” Somehow her tears worked again, and they agreed. Finally, “I’ll need some sort of work-study, because I need money to live.” More tears got her an assistantship. Her job was to set up the stage.
“I don’t recommend that approach,” she hilarious says. “But it worked for me!”
I started taking lessons with you in the 8th grade, after my father sent an embarrassing recording of me singing the “Beauty Is” to Terrell Finney and he put us in touch, you agreed to teach me after school. You came to all my terrible high school shows, Christmas dinners, family weddings and funerals. You shaped my voice and who I am. You have been my second mother, and trusted friend. I’ve been thinking about all of the incredible singers who have stood by your piano, or bounced on betty the big blue ball and learned to sing with you.
You have helped to craft some of the most gorgeous voices in our industry. Your reach is infinite. Pat, I believe you have taught over 500 students over the past 23 years. That’s 500 people’s lives who you have changed. You’ve done thousands of WOAH YEAHS, and AHH”s with tounges out, you’ve got more imageries for your pop up book than anyone can even name. You’ve BOOM CHUCKED for the best of them, and coached hundreds and hundreds of songs. You’ve hosted gender bender brunches, and always make your students feel welcome in your studio and home.
But what you’ve done even more than that is help hundreds of young artists find their voices, not just their singing voice, but you’ve helped us find our identities and our spirits. You are our cheerleader when we’ve had a bad acting, voco, or jazz class. You’ve dried more tears than anyone I know, you’ve given more pep talks over coffee than humanly possible.
You take the time to listen, to ask, to care, to make us laugh when we need it, to each one of your students for so many years. You’ve left an everlasting impression on so many people. You make your students laugh after a bad day, given hugs just when we think the world is ending because we didn’t get the part or book the job. You are everyone’s favorite cheerleader and confidante.
Excerpted from a speech by Katie Johannighman at Pat’s Retirement Celebration
After graduation, Pat returned to Europe, but after three months she realized it just wasn’t a good fit. She began teaching at Mt. St. Joseph University and then at the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati. They needed someone to teach musical theatre, but thought she’d be good because of her classical background.
Then in 1997, she returned to her alma mater and began teaching voice in the musical theatre program. After a couple of years, Aubrey Berg told Pat that she would be responsible for teaching every member of the sophomore class. She takes pride in being able to be there for students in what might be the hardest part of their training.
One of her students, though, opted to stay with her rather than switch to a different vocal instructor. Marla Mindelle, star of stage and screen, began a trend of other upper-classmen remaining in her studio.
Pat Linhart quite literally made me famous! Lol. It’s true. Pat graciously asked me to be her senior helper in one of her yearly cabarets. We sang an amazing duet of “The Man that Got Away/Sooner or Later,” arranged by “spangle dangle” aka Julie Spangler. I uploaded the song to YouTube on a whim and it blew up.
I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me over the years to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Aside from being an incredible voice teacher, Pat was one of the few teachers I had at CCM that truly believed in me. She cared about the well-being and success of her students, and I took her support as I embarked on my long career in musical theatre. I attribute much of my success as a singer to her, and I know she has touched the lives of many other students as she did mine!
– Marla Mindelle
It’s 12:30. Immediately after Jack leaves, Alloria Frayser comes in. She examines at the walls. “Have you started taking things down?” she says with sadness. She is enthusiastic about her lesson, though. A youthful exuberance.
“Have you done any yodeling today?” Pat asks her. It’s not a serious question, and Alloria knows it. She adores Pat. They all do.
Lip runs get the breath moving. “Your goal, make them match – both octaves.” She goes high. Pat says, “Get in the backseat, Mariah!”
Alloria asks about air conservation; Pat rolls out “Betty the Big Blue Ball” for this part of the lesson. She gets technical, because she’s very good at her job. Alloria follows the directives and Pat affirms her all the way. When she successfully hits the notes she was aiming for, Pat teases, “I hate you for that.”
She adds, “You didn’t just walk into ballet class and put your leg up on the bar. This is going to become second nature eventually.”
Pat knows her children are triple threats.
She introduces the “Hey Taxi” exercise, which she says is “our favorite exercise for belters.”
Alloria sings “Raining” from Rocky by Stephen Flaherty and it’s brilliant. Pat has notes; they work through each one. “It’s like the water wheel on the back of the Delta Queen,” Pat explains about her breath technique.
Alloria responds, “That’s awesome! You’re killing it with the analogies today.”
Pat married Denny Linhart in 1986. They first met at a printing company on Colerain Avenue, where Pat worked as a temp and Denny worked as a salesman. He would come to Dayton to see Pat in shows at The Human Race Theatre, where she is still a company member. But it was not meant to be – at least not then – as she moved to NYC to pursue her dreams.
The gay couple who lived below her on 48th and 10th told her that she really should find herself a man. She mailed a Christmas card to Denny at the printing company, which was the address she had for him. He called her, because he was going to be in the city to see a customer, and asked her out. He took her out to The Palm on the Upper East Side. He bought her steak. She moved back to Cincy after five years in the city.
Pat and Denny got married soon after. They moved back to New York and they lived there for about six months. After someone picked Denny’s pocket, they decided they’d had enough wanted to return home to Cincinnati. So, they moved back together – and Denny opened his own printing company, which he later retired from. Now both retired, they live in a delightful home in Indiana with their dog, Mayzie.
Pat Linhart (aka “Diva”) is truly one of a kind. An absolute gem and was a definite highlight during my time at CCM! Pat has this essence about her that automatically makes you feel at ease and welcomed when you’re around her. Our time together were filled with countless amounts of tears, smiles, and laughs. So many lessons I’ve taken with me from my time with Pat has not only been applied to my life as a vocalist/artist but also as a person which I’m forever grateful for.
One of the many things I love about Pat is that she will always be in your corner supporting you and cheering you on. Whether you have studied with her in the past or working with her currently, she will always show up and be rooting for you no matter what one ends up doing in their life.
– Jenny Mollet
Pat is a company member at Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Ohio, where she has performed in shows like “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Becky’s New Car,” and “Steel Magnolias.” While primarily known for her voice instruction, she is an incredible actress. A few summers ago, she starred in “Souvenir” at Totem Pole Playhouse. Several years ago, she starred in “Nunsense” at the Aronoff Center, which cemented life long friendships with her co-stars.
Her most recent acting appearance was – by all accounts – gut-wrenchingly good. Pat appeared in a staged reading of “‘night, Mother” by Marsha Norman along with one of her students, Britta Rae.
As a teacher, Pat had a way of making every student feel special and valued. She was much more than a professor to all of us, she was a mentor and friend. In only a year of studying with her, I learned so much about becoming a stronger artist and kinder human. A few months ago, I jumped at the chance to perform with Pat in the two-person play, ‘night, Mother. It was such an incredible experience and I am so thankful that I got to work with such an iconic woman. I learned something new from Pat every single day.
– Britta Rae
Underground in Over-the-Rhine, the packed Ghost Baby jazz club buzzes. Julie Spangler takes the stage and the crowd goes wild. She starts to vamp on the piano. Pat makes her grand entrance. This is the last one. The last recital. I doubt Ghost Baby ever had this rowdy of an audience before.
She does what she’s always done; sings classic tunes, tells incredible stories with her voice and her acting, and entertains the crowd with a song about toasters. Julie accompanies and occasionally sings, too. There’s a cello and a saxophone, but make no mistake about it, this is Pat’s show. She’s the star.
She sings the last song. We, the audience, beg for an encore. She’s prepared for one. She sings and gets emotional. It’s touching. It’s sad. It’s beautiful.
Pat has an active social life. She kayaks and runs and still goes to see shows in support of her students and friends. She and Denny and Mayzie, the dog, plan to rest a little, and probably travel. And I doubt we’ve seen the last of her on stage just yet.
Pat is one of the first people I worked with when I moved to Cincinnati over thirty years ago, before either of us were involved at CCM. When she joined voice faculty, I collaborated with her on her annual recital, which quickly became an institution for us and all who attended. It’s way more than a recital ; it’s a love letter from her to everyone who adores and supports her. The lengths to which she has gone to make this annual show an experience knows no bounds. Yes, there’s the dress, the hair, the guest artists, the party favors, the occasional gimmick; but the foundation of it all is the incredible treasure of music she has discovered, reimagined, and made her own.
We have played together for more than two decades, and she has brought something new to the party every single year. Pieces that are absolute jewels, some familiar, some never heard before. Pieces that will inspire an emotion. And when you watch Pat sing these pieces, she’s on the same emotional ride as her audience. I’ve laughed and shed tears with Pat more than any other person, I believe. I cherish every memory I’ve made on a stage with her.
– Julie Spangler
I started out wanting to write this piece to pay tribute to the unparalleled career of Patricia Linhart. My dear friend, DJ Plunkett (“Wicked”), told me a long time ago that “Pat is the reason CCM – and heck a lot of Broadway – sounds so good.” I was intrigued by the teacher. But the more time I spent with her, observing, dining, and talking, I’ve fallen in love with woman herself.
Yes, she’s an incredible educator. An amazing performer. But Pat Linhart is everything you’d want in a friend. It’s evident from the quotes in this piece; I simply asked for a short blurb from everyone about what Pat has meant to them. Instead I received paragraphs in response; they all needed to be included in whole. And I could have solicited dozens more. They would have all told the same story of a woman who has inspired, educated, entertained – and changed the world.
Happy Retirement, Diva.