The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Brooklyn, 7, will be an understudy for five roles including Molly, the littlest orphan who has several featured moments in the classic 1977 musical by Charles Strouse, Thomas Meehan and Martin Charnin.
Annie is the first hit in several months of auditioning in New York for Brooklyn and her older sister Sydney, 9.
Their mother, Angie Shuck, says that all three of their daughters, including 6-year-old Raleigh, have shown a knack for musical theater and worked with the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s Academy for Creative Excellence, a musical-theater training program for school-age children. Brooklyn was seen recently in the UK Opera Theatre’s Grand Night for Singing showtune revue in June and singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus at last month’s Celebration of Song at Victorian Square.
With the experience Brooklyn and Sydney were gaining, Angie Shuck said they decided to take a shot at New York stages under the guidance of Lexington-based manager Peggy Stamps and her SquarePeg management group.
“They went up there, and they were naturals,” Angie Shuck says. “So we decided we would give them that opportunity.”
Stamps says the girls have been auditioning for 10 months and made it into the final rounds of auditions for several shows, including The Grinch and Godspell 2032.
Shuck says she was called last month about the Annie audition and had 22 hours to get Brooklyn to New York.
Brooklyn is a second grader at Garden Springs Elementary School, but of course will have to move to New York, at least while she is in Annie.
The University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s Academy for Creative Excellence won several awards including outstanding performance at the Junior Theatre Festival last month in Atlanta.
The Academy is the UK Opera’s preparatory performing arts program for school age students. The Junior Theatre Festival is presented by New York’s iTheatrics and Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars and sponsored by theatrical licencor Music Theatre International (MTI), Disney Musicals and the NBC series Smash. According to an MTI report, with more than 3,000 attendees, it is the largest musical theater festival dedicated to groups working with elementary school-, middle school- and high school-aged students.
Director Mary Joy Nelson said the groups of students were split up into pods of eight to 10 groups that perform for and compete with each other. The Academy for Creative Excellence group was honored for outstanding performance in their pod for their performance of excerpts from Seussical Jr. The honor meant that the group performed on the last day for the entire festival. Patrick Garr, a student at the School for Creative and Performing Arts was honored as best male performer in the pod.
Among the adjudicators who evaluated the ACE group was choreographer and Butler University adjunct professor of dance and theater Kenny Shepard who said in his notes, “You may hear some coaches say, you’ve raised the stakes.” He added that ACE was unlike any other group he had seen.
In addition to participating in the theater festival, the Lexington group got to see one of their own on stage at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre in the national tour of Annie, starring Sally Struthers as Miss Hannigan. Lilly Meekin, a 10-year-old student at Sts. Peter and Paul School, was one of five out of 130 auditioners to win a spot as one of the orphans while the tour was in Atlanta.
The Academy for Creative Excellence will present Seussical Jr. in its entirety on the University of Kentucky campus May 25-28. The specific location and other information will be announced at a later date.
Aug10Filed under: dance, Music, Musicals, Paragon Music Theatre, Reviews; Tagged as: 9 to 5, Actors Guild of Lexington, Annie, cabaret, Carmen Geraci, Chris Duncan, Grand Night for Singing, Greased Lightning, Henry Zahn, Jan Hooker, Javier Pereira, Jennifer Parr, Jersey Boys, Katie Owen, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Kitchel, Les Miserables, Lexington Opera House, Meadowlark, Natasha's Bistro & Bar, Paragon Music Theatre, Rachel Hannah, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Side Show, Taylor the Latte Boy, The Devil You Know, The Lion King, William Arnold
Most of us who follow musicals have had those wow moments, where we see a song we’ve known for years in the context of the show it’s from and get what it’s all about.
One of the secrets to the success of Paragon Music Theatre‘s Summer Cabaret at Natasha’s Bistro & Bar is that it would leave you with few of those wow moments for the tunes it presents. Under Robyn Peterman-Zahn’s direction, the 90-minute show-tune revue delivers plenty of mini-dramas and comedies representing 17 different shows, and it has plenty of wow moments of its own.
Wow moments like:
■ Javier Pereira nailing Frankie Valli’s “I love you baby!” in Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You from Jersey Boys.
■ Jan Hooker’s precious rendition of Kristin Chenoweth’s Taylor, the Latte Boy.
■ Carmen Geraci leading a conniving take on Annie‘s Easy Street.
■ Katie Owen’s Meadowlark with a fluttery dance by Haley Fish.
■ A stirring five-song distillation of Les Miserables, a show we have yet to see here in Lexington, though you could have left Natasha’s feeling like you had.
In a market that’s coming dangerously close to being oversaturated with cabarets and show-tune revues – Grand Night for Singing, the Lexington Singers pops concerts, and the proposed Actors Guild of Lexington cabarets – Paragon’s offering makes a clear case for itself both to be seen as this edition continues Aug. 17 to 19 at Natasha’s and when the cabaret returns in the winter. Paragon will reconstitute its schedule this coming season to present Hello, Dolly! at the Lexington Opera House from Oct. 22 to 25, the cabarets in the winter and The Sound of Music at the Opera House next summer.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich