May 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Our Write to the Spotlight outreach program is coming to a close for this year. For four weeks, our teaching artists were integrated into several second grade classrooms in Arlington Heights School District 25. Our teaching artists worked on adapting poems into original plays through the study of character, story, setting and emotion. Now, to wrap up the program, the students are coming to Metropolis to see their plays performed live on our stage by professional actors.
It’s time for a sneak peek of the brilliant work that comes from Write to the Spotlight’s second graders! Here’s a portion of one play, inspired by Smart by Shel Silverstein.
GRANDMOTHER: Don’t you know that $1 is more than 5 cents?
KID: Well, no I didn’t.
GRANDMOTHER: Aren’t you in second grade?
KID: I forgot about that.
GRANDMOTHER: I thought you were smart.
KID: I was…
GRANDMOTHER: You will have to make up for it.
KID: How am I going to do that?
GRANDMOTHER: You can start with making all the beds, putting the dishes on the counter, watering the plants, dusting, finding everybody’s icky underwear, putting the underwear in the laundry, taking the underwear out of the dryer, folding the underwear and putting the underwear away.
KID: Wish I could trade the underwear for 5 cents.
May 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established in 1868 as a day to recognize those who had died while serving in the US military. The day was initially observed on May 30 each year – chosen because the flowers would be in bloom all over the country and families could lay beautiful bouquets at the graves of their loved ones.
Here in Arlington Heights, Memorial Park recognizes Arlington’s Fallen Heroes – the 58 Arlington Heights residents who have died while in service to our nation. Each Memorial Day, Arlington Heights hosts a parade that ends in Memorial Park with a ceremony to honor and remember veterans.
For the second year, Metropolis is honored to be a part of this ceremony. In addition to a commemorative presentation at the park, the ceremony includes moving musicals performances and recognition of all veterans for their service.
Also for the second year, Metropolis is excited to present Memorial Day Salute on May 25. This event will feature a tribute to the music of the 60s and 70s, and between songs, we’ll have special readings to remember our fallen soldiers. This year, we’re proud to have highly decorated Major General James Mukoyama Jr. as a featured reader. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Memorial Park Fund.
This Memorial Day, be sure to take a moment to remember and thank the veterans of our great nation.
May 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Metropolis Properties Designer Maggie Neumayer had her work cut out for her with Five Course Love. Each of the musical’s five vignettes takes place in a different restaurant: a BBQ joint, an Italian bistro, a German schnitzel house, a Spanish cantina and a roadside diner. Rather than change out large set pieces, Five Course Love relies on props and set decorations to change the atmosphere for each scene.
Below is a link to the complete listing of props and set decorations for Five Course Love. Well, nearly complete – we had to keep a few items off the list so we don’t spoil all the surprises! Be sure to keep an eye out for all these elements when you come see the show – opening this Thursday, May 16 and running through June 16.
May 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“Almost Maine is a unique show with a lot of heart, a lot of comedy and just enough drama,” said Metropolis Performing Arts Education Director Michelle Shaver. “Plus, the flexible cast size really fit our needs and allowed us to cast a really great ensemble of adult students.”
Classes for adult students are old hat at Metropolis, but this is the first time our adult students have tackled a full production. “We’re hoping to make this a regular opportunity for our adults,” added Shaver. Currently, Metropolis’ School of the Performing Arts (SOPA) has annual fall and spring productions for students in grades K-12. “We’ll weigh a lot of factors in moving forward on our adult productions,” said Shaver, “including the response to Almost Maine from the cast, audience, instructors and other students.”
For this first outing, Shaver selected Metropolis Resident Director and SOPA instructor Robin Hughes to direct. “We got very lucky that this fit in between other projects for Robin,” said Shaver. “And I can’t think of anyone better to bring out the sentimentality and charm of this show.”
“I will always teach in everything I do,” said Hughes of working with students on this production. “I don’t like thinking of actors as ‘better’ than one another, but rather on different points of their theatrical journeys. Teaching definitely keeps me interested in directing. Discovery with an ensemble of any level is always a unique experience.”
The challenge for Hughes was in the schedule, rather than the students, as they had just 10 rehearsals to perfect the show. “That’s difficult for even the most seasoned actor,” said Hughes, “but we have an amazing group of students who have committed themselves so fully to the process and are working countless hours outside of rehearsal as well. I am amazed at their drive and appreciate their hard work so much!”
Hughes was hard pressed to choose a favorite moment or scene in this show – “that’s like trying to choose between children” she noted. Instead, she gave us a bit of a tease of the show: “I will just say that I love witnessing a trip around the world in the name of love – a tent pitched in the winter, a mistake turned happy accident for a villain, the drop of the other shoe, two old loves finding each other again, and a snowmobile strip down. You have to come to the show to find out what I mean.”
April 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Most Saturdays are busy days within the halls of our School of the Performing Arts (SOPA). And this coming Saturday, April 20, is no exception. In the morning, we’ll welcome music students performing for our 7th Spring Music Fest, and in the afternoon, we’ll host our first Fine Arts Fest.
At the Spring Music Fest, students perform for our adjudicators and receive valuable insight and feedback about their performance. Last year, the Spring Music Fest saw more than 40 student performers, including Metropolis violin student Lindsey Sander, who will be performing again this year.
“I like to get feedback from someone who doesn’t know me and hasn’t seen me play before. The critiques feel a bit more honest and helpful,” Lindsey said of her past experience at Spring Music Fest.
This year, she’s preparing the First Movement of Concert in G Major for the adjudicators. “There’s a lot of room for interpretation, so I have fun with that,” Lindsey noted.
Lindsey is also a regular violin student at Metropolis. “Lindsey showed a strong interest in music from a young age,” said Lindsey’s mom Vickie. “SOPA gave her an avenue to learn from experienced professionals. She’s improved her musical skills and playing techniques, and enhanced her artistic expression. It’s something that will be with her for her entire life.”
“Everyone at SOPA is so friendly and talented,” Lindsey added. “The teachers are great, and so is everyone else I’ve met. SOPA has such a nice, comfy quality to it.”
“We’re certainly proud of Lindsey, and all of our students, and the progress we see them make each day,” said Music School Director Lesley Swanson. “Spring Music Fest is just one more opportunity to show them how they continue to improve. It’s also a great performance opportunity that mirrors audition processes and prepares them for their future in the music world.”
New at this year’s Spring Music Fest is a silent auction. “We have some really great items – from Chicago Symphony Orchestra tickets to an exclusive movie screening in Metropolis’ theatre,” said Swanson. Items will be open for bidding from 9am to 1pm.
Also new this year, Metropolis is offering a sampler of fine arts workshops with the Fine Arts Fest. “We know that the arts extend beyond the performing arts we teach here at Metropolis,” said Metropolis Performing Arts Education Director Michelle Shaver. “This is a great opportunity for our students to try out some other art forms, and also for us to introduce them to some of the great visual artists in the area.”
Workshops include sewing a decorative pillow, creating collages, painting pottery and more. Workshops are 1 hour long and sessions begin at 1pm and 2pm.
For more information on the Spring Music Fest, please call the music school office at 847.577.5982 x240, and for details on the Fine Arts Fest, please call the performing arts school office at 847.577.5982 x221.
April 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Each spring since 2009, Metropolis has produced the moving, historical drama The Diary of Anne Frank. And each spring, dozens of teachers bring their classes on a field trip to see our production. This year, we asked a few of those teachers to tell us why they choose to bring their class to The Diary of Anne Frank.
“We read the book as a class and it’s a great way to bring Anne’s story to life for our students,” says Leesa Akins of South Middle School in Arlington Heights. “It’s so interesting to see a staged interpretation of the book that enhances students’ understanding of the novel.”
With state requirements to keep in mind and limited budgets available, teachers really look to make the most of their field trips. Luckily, The Diary of Anne Frank is a strong option with ties to many areas of the curriculum.
“We’ll be seeing the play while studying drama in our literature textbook, which includes the reading of the play version of The Diary of Anne Frank,” says Katie Kalinowicz of Northlake Middle School. “This year, we’ll be seeing the play prior to reading it, which provides a great visual reference for my students when we do read the play.”
“The Diary of Anne Frank is a perfect fit with social studies curriculum for our 8th grade students,” adds Marcia Day of Lake Zurich Middle School North. “A major component of the social studies unit is World War II and its aftermath. Not only does this play meet the state requirement of explicitly teaching about the Holocaust, it also sensitizes students to the plight of powerless people and our human obligation to help.”
Nearly 3,000 students from over 40 area schools will be coming to Metropolis for a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank this year. We’re ready for some unforgettable learning experiences to take place in our theatre this April!
April 9, 2013 § 5 Comments
I was a thirteen-year-old cancer patient when I knew I wanted to play Anne Frank someday. I’d gathered enough courage to go to an open-call audition for a different play at Oakton Community College. I’d prepared a monologue from The Diary of Anne Frank. Stepping up onto the stage, my bald head was throbbing with anticipation, my knees were quivering and I could barely catch my breath. Facing death, however, taught me that giving into fear was never an option. I performed Anne’s monologue and I felt an insanely strong connection to her feelings as I stood in front of the director. I ended up getting the part because of this profound connection that arose in me. For one, we were both thirteen-year-old girls facing something that few people our age could ever imagine. We both lived in simultaneous anxiety and hope. We both often questioned our life span and if we would ever live to get married or have children. True, we spoke different languages, we were born in different countries almost seventy years apart, went through entirely different things (hers, of course, being far more brutal and ending in tragedy) and yet, I understood her. That audition was also the day I truly fell in love with acting – I was enticed by the extreme tie that can occur between the actor and her character.
My first thought when getting the role of Anne Frank was how wonderful it would be for my acting career. I’ve never been the title character in a show before, and I’ve certainly never gotten to play such a dynamic and life affirming character as Anne. And of course, being almost three years in remission, it was almost symbolic to be cast in the role I always longed for when I was sick. Preparing for the role, I watched endless videos of interviews with survivors of the Holocaust on YouTube, some of which were Anne’s childhood friends, looked up images of concentration camps, and of course read Anne’s diary. Some of the photos I saw looked like they came straight out of a horror movie. Skulls were literally scattered all around the dusty ground of the camps. It was very easy to pretend it was all pretend and not a major part of the world’s history.
One night, in bed, I was reading a chapter in Anne’s diary, with a highlighter and pen in hand. I thought about all my friends and family, flying in from across the country to see me perform. My mind was elsewhere – I treated the research like a homework assignment. The chapter, however, was far more personal and less of a recitation of facts than some of her previous ones. She confessed her secret hopes to what she wanted to be when she grew up. There were a myriad of things she listed, like she couldn’t really make up her mind as a young teen… and she would never get to. I pictured her in her tiny cot in the Secret Annex, blocking out the snoring of Mr. Dussel and trying so hard to escape her circumstances. That was when the truth seeped into my skull – Anne’s story had really happened. This wasn’t like any other character I had played before. I was playing a real girl who had thoughts that weren’t written by a playwright.
Out of nowhere, I started crying, like I was mourning the loss of a close friend who had died. Anne was fifteen when she died of Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp – only a year younger than me. The despair soon turned to rage and disgust that such tragic, unspeakable things can happen to innocent people based solely on their ethnicity and religion. The next day, I told one of my theatre friends that I didn’t think I could do the role – I was sure my skill wasn’t enough to do Anne the justice she deserved. And even if I did do well, it couldn’t change her suffering and senseless death.
“You are the one bringing her back to life. Anne will live again through you,” she told me, “You don’t have a choice; you’ve got to do this for her.”
This role is not about my skill as an actor. This role is not about me whatsoever. The role is another way for Anne to tell her world famous story to all who come see the show – a lot of whom are around Anne’s age. It is one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do, to completely let go and let the instincts of my character guide me through the show, but it is also the most wonderful opportunity I’ve ever had in my whole life.
My favorite scene in the show is the one where Margot is helping Anne get ready to go into Peter’s room. Her mother comes in, they argue, Anne fishes for compliments from her sister, wonders if Peter actually likes her and tries her best to look pretty, despite doubting her appearance compared to Margot’s. In short, it is an experience every teenage girl, including myself, has had. The exchanges with Margot and her mother are universal, and it is almost forgotten that they are hiding in the attic of an office building during World War II. Anne’s deepest insecurities surface for just a brief moment, and in that moment we all can recognize her as our friend, our sister, our daughter or even ourselves.
It’s really easy to see Anne Frank as a hero because of all she went through and her belief in humanity despite all of it. But, I think when we call someone a hero it almost disassociates us from who they were. We can only see them as saints on Earth, and that was my problem at first. I’ve learned that Anne was not a priest or rabbi, she was a feisty, bright, funny, rebellious and intuitive girl who had endless potential. That the world lost a human like her is far more tragic than the world loosing an iconic hero.
I am so thrilled to be working with Metropolis on this project. Anne wrote in her diary that she wanted to go on living long after her death. Thanks to fabulous theatres like Metropolis and brave directors and actors like Brian Rabinowitz and my cast, Anne’s dream comes true every day, sixty-eight years after her death. Anne will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m so excited to bring her back to life!