Brand new to the Our Kids Blog is a new column, Backstage Notes - a look behind the scenes of the quality artistic programs found at private school and summer camp! First we'll hear from the Avenue Road Arts School as they prepare a musical theatre revue show based on the hit television series Glee.
I'm Allison Beula, the Director and Choreographer of The Avenue Road Arts School's Musical Theatre Company. Ranging in cast members from Grade 7 to Grade 12, we rehearse once a week, and perform two shows a year in professional theatre venues. We keep our company size small thus ensuring equal and ample opportunities for each member to explore, grow, and perform.
For our first show, I like presenting a "revue" which allows me to highlight and feature the individual skills and talents of each and every cast member. Along with my Musical Director, Jacqueline Sadler, we choose material in conjunction with the kids to put together a show that shows off the very best of all of us, yet also provides a challenge and a goal.
With the tremendous popularity of the hit series Glee, musical theatre has come into the mainstream and has made it popular to kids who might not have otherwise been exposed to many classic showtunes. That being said, many of our students come to us as already true blue fans of musical theatre and performing. The challenge of course is that shows like Glee who have professional, polished actors who are sometimes up to a decade older than their teenage character, have endless time, budget, and production values to produce their numbers.
Doing live theatre is a true challenge, always made harder by the fact that good performers make the work seem effortless, but the reality is that performing is hard work, hard for the body, and challenging for the mind! (Try singing full out and keeping a harmony whilst dancing, it's not as easy as when you do it in your shower!) So our troupe is in the process of locking down our music while we begin to slowly layer movement and character work on top of it. The work is always hard won, but so rewarding when you see your actors literally glowing once they experience the thrill of performing live!
Hey, I'm Kayley. I'm in grade 9 at St. Clements School in Toronto. I'm a part of the Avenue Road Arts School cast! ARAS is, well, one of the best parts of my week. I love musical theatre, and I have for a long time. I think ARAS is a great experience for young performers because it's a fairly casual way to learn about the performing arts. In rehearsal on Monday, we practiced "Don't Stop Believin," which is one of the Glee cast's most famous songs. But all you hear in the soundtrack is Lea Michele and Cory Monteith. What you don't notice is how much of a pain it is singing "dah dah dah dah dah dah..." for 42 bars straight, then a short break to "Strangers waiting, dah dah dah dah..." then back to another 20 bars and then a short break and as the song says, it goes on and on and on and on!
But nevertheless, singing is a passion of mine, and I think it's really important to learn how to sing back up because, no, you're not always going to get the lead. But when you do... man does it feel good! See, I was practically jumping for joy last rehearsal because I got a solo part in "Don't Stop...," one of my all-time favourite songs. Then we added a little bit of choreography. Now, I'm not (always) one to complain, but trying to keep your part and then think about choreography... yikes!
Stay tuned to hear more from Allison and Kayley as they take their show from baby steps to roof-raiser!