Tri-State Theater

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Saturday the Fun Begins with "School of Rock!"

   I try not to make this blog site a personal diary - it's here to focus on all the community theatre shows in our area, not just the one I happen to be working on - but I hope you'll forgive me if I jump in here from time to time to talk about "my" next show.

   Of course, the "my" is deceptive - it takes a lot of work by a lot of people to put on a show - but I'm the director, so I guess I'm first in the line of fire.

   This story goes back to last November, when I was part of the huge team working on the First Stage production, Disney's The Lion King, Jr. - a terrific show, an amazingly talented cast and a huge success!

   As the show was nearing its end, I starting thinking, "What's next?" I didn't really have a show in mind for the next season - and that's when I heard about School of Rock the Musical!

   I was a fan of the original movie, and I'd heard that a version of it was being adapted for Broadway. Then the YouTube videos promoting that show started appearing - but of course, the gap between a show being on Broadway and being available for community theatre groups is usually years.

   But Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who crafted the stage version of the show, is a huge proponent of the value of music education, so he announced that the show would be made available to schools and children's theaters at the same time that it was starting its run in New York!

   That was all I needed to hear! I ran to the next board meeting of First Stage Theatre and urged them to stage the show in the fall of 2016 - and they agreed!

   The next job was to assemble a team of directors to tackle the show - so I called the same talented bunch who worked on "Lion King, Jr." - and they all signed on right away!

   That includes Music Director Mark Smith, Choreographer Melissa Marcum, Assistant Choreographer Brynne Kyle, Assistant Directors Robyn Welch and Ashleigh Bailey-Bannon! We've also signed on two new Assistant Directors, Cyndi Mac Fuller and Emily Asbury! Our Set Construction Directors include Jack Welch, Hunt Bryan and Mike Barbour! Our producers are Leslie Comer-Porter and Jeanette Rowsey!

   That's what I call a talented lineup of amazing, gifted people - it's a thrill to work with them!

   We met a few times over the summer to plan and scheme - and now it's time to get this show on the road (so to speak)!

   The big challenge with this show is that five of the performers have to play their own instruments, live on stage - something First Stage has never done! (In fact, I'm not sure that any community theatre group has done that locally.)

   So this weekend we hold our first auditions! Saturday is just for musicians - we need two who play the guitar (including the Jack Black character, Dewey Finn), and one each who play the bass, keyboard and drums!

   Also, the orchestra for the show is made up of students 18 and younger!

   Sunday we start auditioning actors for singing, speaking and dancing roles.

   Once the cast is in place, rehearsals will begin - I can't wait! We'll rehearse the show for about 10 weeks (and it's a big show - it'll take every bit of that time), and then stage the show the first two weekends in November at the Renaissance Theatre!

   It's going to be a blast! Or to quote one of my favorite lines in the show: You just can't stop... the School of Rock!


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