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The Making of a Springfield Theatre Performance, Part I: Talent and Music Come Together

On the 4th floor of the Vandivort Center on Walnut Street lies the Springfield Contemporary Theatre where the historic space is preparing to open the legendary musical Evita. As the first part in a two-part series on what it takes to put on a theatre production in Springfield, KSMU’s Matthew Barnes has this report.

[Nats: music with voices]

For months, the cast members have been honing their voices in preparation to tell the awe inspiring story of Eva Peron in the musical Evita.  Judy Luxton is the Music Director for the performance.

“For all intents and purposes, Evita is an opera. There is very little talking in this. It’s considered musical theatre genre but it’s all singing,” says Luxton.

A music teacher at Pipkin Middle School, Luxton says when working with a musical of this nature, there is a critical factor to its overall success.

“It’s a huge musical and the harmonies are extraordinarily hard. So picking the right people. Evita—she is doing a beautiful job,” says Luxton.

[Nats: Evita singing]

A recent vocal performance graduate from Missouri State, Kelly Osborne will be making her community theatre début as Evita.

“Singing in English is something you don’t get to do a lot in Opera. You sing in Russian and French and Italian which is great. But I definitely like dancing and singing and acting,” Says Osborne.

Osborne sang in the MSU Concert Chorale, and the premiere female a capella group at Missouri State. Evita, she says, is unlike anything she’s ever attempted before.

 “Evita is a tricky character. Her vocals are weird. She goes from like belting on the radio to quiet and demure and naive is some ways, so I am having a blast,” says Osborne.

 The musical requires complex vocal talent, and Luxton has given the utmost praise to the cast for their abilities.

“For anybody that has seen the score of Evita, [it] is five, six part harmonies, dissonance, all of these things that are not easy for any group to get. They were getting it the first time or at least the second time and remembering it the next day, which is the trick. They’ve now got to take all of that stuff they have learned and add it to choreography, add it to staging and add it to acting,” says Luxton.

 [Nats: Strict Choreographer]

And that’s a task that’s easier said than done, according Rachel Cochran one of the ensemble members.

“It’s a little rough for me because I am not a dancer by nature but it’s good to work on. It’s good for future practice for future shows,” says Cochran.

[Nats: Dance counting]

“It’s like making some type of great sculpture of David or whatever,” says Derrick King, the choreographer.

Practicing with the cast about four nights a week, choreographer Derrick King says they will have to get used to working on the smaller space that the theatre has.

“It takes time and you chip away and chip away but eventually that one little chip will make it perfect. It’s taking a little time, but they all have the ability to step up to the plate,” says King.

Though it means a smaller sized cast and tighter dance moves, according to King, none of the musical’s power will be lost.

“I like it in its minimalistic format because the audience is so much closer and you get to feel so much more a part of the story in an intimate setting,” says King.

For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.

[Sound:  music fades out]

Anchor Tag: you can join us this afternoon (Thursday) to hear part two in this series, which will focus on the cost associated with putting on a show.