Written by: April Vargo
This upcoming weekend will be closing weekend for "Sleeping Beauty" by David Kisor and Joseph McDonough, a musical I've been directing this summer. I can honestly say that I am filled with quite a wide-array of emotions. I don't normally find myself connecting to a show or a cast to the point of where I can genuinely say it has made an impact on me or my life. However, this show and its cast and crew will be staying with me for quite a while.
I love directing, I love the shows I've worked on and the people I've had the chance to meet, but once the show comes to an end I'm usually very content and ready to move on. Shows can be filled with drama (and not the good kind), people who can't get along, some crisis that never seems to end, endless texts and emails, and the inevitable diva who makes sure everyone knows they're a gift given to the world by God. When all is said and done it can be a pretty exhausting process.
Going into this show I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if we would have enough people audition, would we get a good balance of males and females, what ages will this show appeal to, and will the personalities meld well together? When auditions happened back in May, we had 75 people come through our door, a great mix of males to females and mostly children and teens. We had so much talent to choose from, so much excitement and enthusiasm and a great deal of experience levels. This was absolutely heavenly!
We were only prepared to take on 30 cast members, so we did have to make some cuts, but the final cast was even more than I could have ever dreamed. We had mostly children, teens, and one adult. I couldn't believe how well everyone got along during the process. Many people knew one or maybe a handful of people, but were willing to open their social circles, accept new people in, and make new friendships.
The cast came to EVERY rehearsal they were scheduled for. There was the occasional absence for sickness or family tragedy, but other than that, absolutely no missed rehearsals. When they came to rehearsals they were focused, energetic, hard working, creative, and honestly a sheer joy to be around. Their parents were so dedicated and kind, trying to help in any and every way possible.
Over the ten years I've been doing this I can honestly count on one hand this type of talent, enthusiasm, level of professionalism and enjoyment. Directors that get an experience like this cherish it because it's not very frequent, it reminds us of why we do this, and what live performance should be.
The team itself - our choreographer, park director, lighting and sound managers, and backstage crew have been an absolute joy and pleasure to work with. I have learned so much from all of them. We all have our strengths in our focused arena and we have all been able to showcase those strengths. Having a team that builds each other up and allows each other to grow creatively has been such a blast! Each one of us owns our own businesses and programs outside of working on the show itself:
Katie Solina - Lincoln Center Dance Classes
Tom Lounges - Tom Lounges Entertainment, LLC
John Huber - The Spot Studio
Alyce Van Drunen - Highland Parks and Recreation
The cast and I were also invited to appear on a live podcast - The Bill and Kali Show as well as The Midwest Beat on Lakeshore Public Radio. Between the two shows, five of our cast members were able to appear live, talk with professional talent, and get the opportunity to promote "Sleeping Beauty." Some of these teens plan on going into the performing arts professionally, so this gave them an awesome opportunity to meet real, working professionals. The opportunity to make contacts at a young age can be so incredibly inspiring and help solidify a growing passion.
The community itself has been so supportive. We estimate in opening weekend we've had about 300-500 each night (3 nights so far). The level of enthusiasm and positive feedback from the individuals who have seen the show have been through the roof. The cast has been so thrilled, and it's definitely fueled their performances and energy level. People like to be appreciated and hear when they're doing well.
This rendition of "Sleeping Beauty" is incredibly unique. It's a hybrid between the Disney and Brothers Grimm versions. It's written in a more contemporary fashion with classical, rock, jazz, barbershop quartets, opera, and pop music. The characters are incredibly relatable, whatever age you are there is one character you will be able to relate to. The level of humor is there for both children and adults alike. The dancing, singing, mixed with constant action will leave you incredibly entertained with a few surprise details you'll only find out about if you come to see the show. It truly highlights each one of our cast members, their strengths, and unique talents.
If you haven't had a chance to see "Sleeping Beauty" your last chance is this weekend, August 2, 3, 4 at 8:00pm at Highland Main Square Park in Highland, Indiana.
It has been an absolute pleasure to work with this cast and creative team. I hope to have the opportunity to work with everyone again in the future.