Friday, July 24, 2015

Solorio Teens Update!

Emma Cox, Stage Director of Chicago Opera Theater for Teens at Solorio

    As of Monday, July 20th we have officially finished blocking and learning the entire show of Once On This Island, choreography and all!! That puts us at least two weeks ahead of schedule!! This is fabulous news, because it means the teens will have more time in the next few weeks to rehearse lines, spot-check dances and really start developing their characters. Mr Chungers and I are especially pleased at the vocal progress that the teens are all showing--there is some gorgeous singing going on at Solorio!
     We have also started adding in some props and costume pieces, just to get used to wielding them onstage. Overall, the effects are staggering--the song 'Rain'  in particular really came together once we added some of the handkerchief 'raindrops'. In other songs, we decided that less physical effects were needed. In the song "Mama Will Provide", we use the teens themselves to physically 'build' a tableau of everything that Mother Nature is providing for Ti Moune on her journey. My personal favorite song of the show is the finale, "We Tell the Story"--you can just feel the joy radiating off the stage from the teens as they sing and dance! 

        Next week looks to be very busy for us all. We have to continue to work on our production, of course, but we also will be featuring our first performance for an audience outside of Solorio! We also have two guest speakers coming in, Ms Linden Christ and Ms Colleen Jackson, to talk to us about some of the challenges and rewards of running your own theater company, what it is like producing and directing shows, and holding mock auditions and masterclasses with the teens. It's going to be an exciting and informative couple of days!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer with our COT for Teens!

Directors: Emma Cox & Chungers Kim 
Chicago Opera Theater for Teens at Solorio 

        This week has been FLYING by, but everyone has been working incredibly hard. As a result, we are ahead of schedule! We are currently almost two days ahead of where we thought we would be--mostly because of the BRILLIANT people we have in the cast! Today we choreographed "Rain", which is a big dance number in the show. Mr Chungers and I cannot WAIT to see it with all of the props and such on stage! It's going to be fantastic.

        The teens also created professional and personal resumes today. A major part of our final project will be a creative-space board that will feature the teens' head shots and resumes. We are focusing our summer efforts on creating young professional actors/singers who will have a wide range of 'tools' in their creative 'tool belts'. We encouraged the teens to explore other artists on Broadway, in the operatic world and within the jazz circuit to gather real-life examples of how professionals portray themselves. I was truly impressed with the wide array of studies, after-school activities, hobbies and interests that this group displayed. What a marvelous, brilliant and enthusiastic cast we have! They truly have nothing but bright futures ahead of them all!

    July 10th was our first field trip of the summer, and it was especially successful! The teens got a chance to visit the Grant Park Summer Music Festival's rehearsal of "A Sondheim Celebration" concert! For many of them, it was their first experience at a professional musical rehearsal of any kind. There were many curious questions asked--one of which was, "Ms Emma, are we going to perform HERE??" (Answer: 'We WISH!') The weather was perfect, the orchestra was amazing and the singers were pure perfection! The entire day was delightful, and it proved to be a marvelous learning experience. 

    BUT WAIT! It got even better! After the rehearsal, we had the distinct pleasure and privilege to meet one of the artists! Ms Elizabeth Stanley, a well-respected and current actress on Broadway, was gracious enough to offer us advice, insight and ideas about working in the musical world today. The teens had previously explored her website, listened to her recordings and explored her resume, so they had plenty of questions to ask Ms. Stanley about working in "the business". Ms. Stanley had started out as an opera singer before expanding to crossover work in musical theater, and her observations were invaluable. We just couldn't have asked for a better day overall!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FABULOUS performances at Reilly!

Megan Besley, Opera for All Teaching Artist

Our year at Reilly came to a close on June 5th with the culmination of an entire school year's work into one FABULOUS performance! Our amazing partner teachers, Mr. Costilla, Ms. Neamt and Ms. Drakulich played an integral part in getting these kids prepared for their performances, drilling them on lines and encouraging them to rehearse their blocking. The day of the show we encountered technical difficulties with the sound system (we were down to 1 or 2 mics) and, amazingly, the kids just rolled with it- THE SHOW MUST GO ON! We were very proud of how they didn't allow this to deter them in their efforts. The shows went SO well, and parents and families seemed engaged and excited to see the kids perform. Many kids were teary in hugging us goodbye after the show, and told us how much they would miss us and this program. What a great opportunity for everyone involved to bring creativity and music and joy to others!