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Summertime in the Theatre

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Morgan Griffin '12 (top) in "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

September 2011


Students of the SAU Theatre Department have countless opportunities to be involved in productions throughout the school year: directing, acting, designing, stage managing, and more. For some students, this love of being far too busy in the theatre doesn't stop when summer break hits! Students Valerie Zawada '13, Stephanie Seward '13, Kristen Jett '13, Morgan Griffin '12, Tyler Reinert '12, Molly Conrad '14, Emma Williams '14, and Chris Zavacki '13 kept their summers full of theatre.

To see their summer in pictures, head over to the Flickr album.

Val Zawada

Valerie Zawada spent her summer preparing to direct Touch, a play by Toni Press-Coffman. In this fall's first studio slot, Zawada's cast members were expected to memorize their lines over the summer; the team only has about three and a half weeks to put together an entire show! Character work over the summer was a challenge, as Zawada and her cast members all live in different cities.

"We did it mainly through Skype and email a few times, just to touch base," said Zawada. While blocking and a thorough analysis of the script took up the majority of her summer, she also had the opportunity to do some interesting research to better understand her show.

"I went to the Adler Planetarium with my dad to see one of the movies (Into the Stars), and just kind of learn a little more about astronomy," said Zawada. "I also took a trip way north to Minnesota and got to enjoy the clear sky–no northern lights, but I did see the Milky Way!"

"Touch" opens in the SAU Studio Theatre Thursday, September 8 at 7:30 pm, and shows continue through Saturday, September 10.

Stephanie Seward

Stephanie Seward '13 spent her summer working at the Beverly Arts Center in Beverly, Ill., on the south side of Chicago.

"I had the amazing opportunity to work with incredibly creative kids!" she said.

Seward directed the musical Disney's Sleeping Beauty with 28 kids between the ages of six and nine, as well as teaching a "Split Second Improv" class and several "Broadway Babies" classes, with children ages 3-4 and 5-7.

"It was definitely an adventure, as I had never really worked with kids before. I'm happy to say that it was a super positive experience, and I hope to work with young ones again soon," said Seward.

Although she went expecting only to teach and direct children, Seward ended up performing as Miss Adelaide in the BAC production of Guys and Dolls. "It was definitely an eye-opening summer, and I'm so grateful to have had the experience."

Kristin Jett

Kristen Jett '13 performed in Art Reach Educational Theatre's production of Cabaret this summer in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Jett played one of the Kit Kat girls, who are performers at the "Kit Kat Klub." Jett said the best part was "getting to work with all the kids that have become my family." She had a great experience, and a lot of fun!

Morgan Griffin

Morgan Griffin '12 filled her summer to the brim with theatrical endeavors. Griffin participated in an internship at the Davenport Junior Theatre the entire summer, which consisted of everything from office work to helping to teach classes, to being design assistant for their production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

When asked what was the most important thing she learned from this experience, Griffin had a hard time choosing.

"It was great to learn how a theatre runs on a day to day basis, as well as discovering my strengths in design and production!"

In addition, Griffin performed in her hometown's community theatre, the Danville (Illinois) Community Players. She played Marcy in their production of the musical 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. "It gave me a chance to really have fun with a character."

Tyler Reinert

Tyler Reinert '12 spent his summer working on designs for upcoming SAU productions. Reinert will be acting as scenic designer for the first two mainstage productions: "A New Brain" and "Dakota Jones and the Search for Atlantis", an original production by our very own Aaron Randolph III '12, as well as designing the lights for the upcoming studio production of Touch.

Reinert enjoyed the process. "It was great to work with abstract ideas," he said, "And to get inspiration from unexpected places."

Reinert also took a trip to the Adler Planetarium with the intention of researching for "Touch," but actually came out with inspirations for the his set design of "A New Brain."

"It's going to be a busy semester!" he said.

Molly Conrad

Molly Conrad '14 had originally planned to spend her summer working away, but couldn't keep herself from the theatre. Although she hadn't auditioned, Conrad was called in to help out with the Quad City Music Guild's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" when a member of the ensemble dropped out. The show was choreographed by SAU's own Emma Williams '14.

As a member of the ensemble, Conrad played a maid, a cloud, a news reporter, a party guest, and more.

"My favorite of the bunch was 'Cloud,'" she added. This was her second appearance in the ensemble for "The Drowsy Chaperone," after having been a member of SAU's production last fall. "I really enjoyed working with a new theatre," she said, "It's always good to be exposed to different directing styles."

In addition to having a good experience with the process, Conrad met "many fun and wonderful people!"

Emma Williams 

Emma Williams '14 kept her interest in the theatre alive by choreographing this summer. After choreographing two shows at Sherrard High School, Williams decided to apply to choreograph at Quad City Music Guild.

"I have always loved dancing," said Williams, "but being able to create my own dances and really watch something start as nothing and evolve into an energy-packed routine was really awesome to me."

After a great experience as Assistant Stage Manager/Dance Captain in SAU's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone," Williams said she couldn't resist an opportunity to work on the show again. Her dad, Bob Williams, directed the show.

"It was such a blessing," she said, "I was always anxious to go to rehearsals and watch the performers take my choreography to the next level."

Chris Zavacki 

Chris Zavacki '13 took part in a production of Godspell this summer with the Independent Stars Company in Chicago, Ill. Zavacki played the character Herb in this ensemble piece.

The director's concept placed the show in a rehearsal space, with the new "director" being Jesus.

"I loved that I was being myself in the context of the play," he said, "being funny and energetic."

Zavacki said he had a great time learning lines, music, and meeting new people.

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