by Jenny Rackl
Each summer, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s Youth Repertory Theatre program takes local students ages 14 to 18 with a talent for theater arts and has them work together eight hours a day for five weeks straight.
This year's result: Celebrazione! — A Lollapalooza of Scenes and Songs, brought to you by the theater stars of tomorrow.
I recently met with four of the performance students who were rehearsing a scene from The Informer under the directional eye of Scott RC Levy, producing artistic director of the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company and director of the performing arts department.
They were amazingly upbeat for being midway through their fifth week of practice, and voiced enthusiasm for the fast-approaching performance. “We’re showing a huge variety of everything, so if you don’t like one type of theater, there’s 10 others,” says performance student Taylor Galloway.
According to Levy, that’s no mistake. The students are performing everything from songs in classical musicals like Anything Goes to scenes from much newer pieces like Legally Blonde. “We’ve been trying to give them a range of material,” Levy says.
The intensity of the Youth Rep experience makes it akin to a boot camp for the theatrically gifted, but regardless of the long hours, most students return to it. In fact, all four of the students I interviewed are returning for either their second or third years.
“It feels really good to be a part of something,” performance student Madison Hunziker says. “It’s like a family, and everyone is really serious about what they do. It’s a fantastic experience and it’s also a privilege to be here, so it’s an honor to come back.”
About 60 students auditioned for performance slots in March, and 31 were selected. There are also eight tech students who faced interviews in May. Once they’re in the program, each performance student is casted throughout the two-part show, while tech students delve into theater carpentry, costume, lighting, or sound design and stage management. “Every actor is on stage at least 10 times over the course of the two parts,” Levy says. “It took a lot of behind-the-scenes castings to make it equitable.”
Along with preparation for the main performance, the program includes a vast array of workshops covering topics such as clowning, make-up design, improvisation, audition techniques and how to choose a headshot. The program instructors include professional theater artists.
“I like the professional atmosphere,” Galloway says. “In the end, when you get to perform with a full professional tech crew behind you, body mics, a full set and costumes and makeup, that professional experience is a lot different from high school.”
The hardest part?
“The intensive choreography of it, even if it’s just simple stuff,” Hunziker says. “It’s a lot of dancing.”
“You wear out after a while,” performance student Jack Walker admits.
The students’ dance moves pay off this starting this Thursday, which begins four days of performances. There are about 35 scenes and songs all together, which are separated into Parts I II — except for the group numbers that are performed each night. “It’s got a lot of energy — it’ll just be an exciting night,” says performance student Natalie Pate.
The performance schedule for Celebrazione! — A Lollapalooza of Scenes and Songs in the SaGaJi Theatre is as follows:
Thursday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are available at 634-5583 or at the door. Tickets are $15 for FAC members and $17 for non-members.
Click here for more information.