Rehearsals for the All-County Musical production of "Singin' in the Rain" are about to enter the fourth week and the producers couldn't be happier with the progress.
Despite declining numbers at auditions, Director Jen Koebley and Producer Jen Dilks are confident that they have the best kids for the job.
"This is an educational process and I truly believe I can teach anyone what they need to know to be in a musical," Koebley said.
Times Observer photo by Brian Collins
Sven Lundquist, second from right, practices his role as Don Lockwood during a recent rehearsal of the All-County Musical’s adaptation of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Flocking him on the left are, from left, Harlee Johnson, Lilya Renner and Samantha Tome. Spurning his advances is Maria Miller, right, who plays the role of Kathy Selden.
The biggest challenge so far for the All-County crew has been scheduling.
"Juggling all the schedules of the schools, the cast members' other commitments, testing schedules and our own personal schedules...," Koebley said, listing a few of the things that get in the way of rehearsals.
"Kids today are more involved than ever. We find that the kids that audition for the All-County Musical are the busiest of all," she added. "Most are juggling AP classes, other activities, after-school jobs, church obligations, dual enrollment courses and, not to mention, their very important social life."
Koebley herself tackles the challenge of starting a new job, being the mother of four, heading the Allegheny Regional Theater Experience, the Youth Connection and the All-County Musical.
Still, the show must go on.
With work set to begin on Act Two of the musical, Dilks said she is pleased with the way the young performers are adapting.
"The thing is they treat this like a professional show in terms of expectations. They have the same expectations as athletes when it comes to practicing and eligibility, except they don't have back-ups. That is, they don't have an understudy," said Dilks. "They're doing a great job as far as being on task and they're catching on really quickly."
Koebley said she couldn't agree more.
"Watching the kids 'find their character' and bring it to life is thrilling," she said. "Working with such talented students and teachers is so much fun. We strive to make our productions as professional as possible and the higher we set the bar, the higher the kids reach to fly over it."
While the young actors and actresses work to develop into their characters, the hard work behind the scenes has already begun to materialize for the producers and set construction crews. Months of preparation, planning, and securing locations are paying off as the audition phase is well behind them and set construction is slated to begin in February.
"Due diligence is being used to make sure the spectacle lives up to its namesake,"said Bob Dilks, a self-described jack-of-all-trades. Dilks and Todd Koebley have teamed up with master carpenter Dave Campbell and engineer Scott Angove to create the plans that will bring the set of "Singin' in the Rain" to life.
"Our goal is to trump the professional production of "Singin' in the Rain" that occurred at the Library Theatre years ago," Dilks added. "Imaginations have run wild as far as the manifestation of the idea on stage."
Though there are still months to go until the show opens at the Struthers Library Theatre, Koebley is already anticipating the final product.
"Seeing a show evolve over the course of three months is nothing short of magic," she said. "Seeing friendships form across school lines is so encouraging and these kids will remain friends forever and even find themselves spending time together outside of the show."