Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicago Opera Theater for Teens

Chris Richard, COT for Teens Teaching Artist
What a way end the semester... with a trial!  A Trial By Jury - The Gilbert & Sullivan one act operetta, that is!

On December 7 & 8 the Chicago Opera Theater for Teens group performed at The Chicago Temple.  The students did a great job and Marta and I were very pleased.  We had not attempted doing an entire opera, and this was a perfect fit.  The one act opera lasts about 35 minutes and there is no dialogue - ALL MUSIC.  We didn't have to cut a thing.  The show provided wonderful opportunities for some of the students to really shine with individual roles.  We double cast the show to give as many solo opportunities as possible. 

The cast of characters included:
The Plaintiff (Angelina), a lovely soprano role sung by Genna Simon and Morgan Holmes
The Defendant (Edwin), a scoundrel of a tenor role sung by Marcellus Burt and Torin Brown
The Judge, a comic baritone role perfect for Sakhary Prayer and Brando Crawford
The Counsel, an empathetic tenor role sung by Xxavier Jenkins and Andre Cardine
The Usher, a bass role split between Marc Morey and adapted to fit a mezzo Ruth Odukoya
Both casts did an excellent job!
This term went rather smoothly. The show being a little shorter then we have attempted in the past seemed to let us all breath a little and allowed everyone to really feel comfortable in their parts.  We decided to let the students have a huge part in the costuming.  We all batted around a couple of ideas on how we could dress.  The possibilities were endless, but ultimately we decided to let every individual come up with a kind of 'iconic' societal character - i.e. we had a cowboy, a monk, a hippie, a ballerina, a volleyball player, a karate student, and so on and so on....  The students really took to mostly coming up with their own ideas and I think that gave them a sense that this whole was really about them!  As we delved into the staging we reminded the students of the character choice and guided them to react to the situations with appropriate body language for their particular character.  If you weren't able to come to one of the performances you missed some hilarious moments!
I think every single student grew from this experience.  Marta and I could hear the strides the students made vocally and certainly their acting and self awareness abounded.  We are proud of them all!!!

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