Education Manager Tracy Whiteside is proud to be directing the FVR Performing Arts Academy’s Kid’s Ensemble production (ages 6-11) of Alice in Wonderland this fall! FVR Parent Paul Hawkins asked Tracy to tell us more about herself and this great educational program. Read on!
Alice in Wonderland will be presented at Pheasant Run’s Mainstage on Saturday, October 22 at 4 pm and Sunday, October 23 at 11 am. Admission is free.
How many shows have you directed? I have directed over 50 shows with casts ages 6 to 20!!
The 'Alice' Cast
What do you think of the cast? This cast is so talented. I am amazed at the abilities of such young actors. They truly take pride in their work.
How are rehearsals going? Rehearsals are going very well. The cast is working hard to do a great job for the audience. I love their dedication.
Is there a cost to attend the show? The performances are free, but we do request a donation of $5 per guest.
What happens with proceeds from show, donations, tuition, etc? The proceeds cover costs such as royalties, lighting and sound technicians, professional training, scripts, music CDs, rental of rehearsal and performance space. Surplus funds, if any, go to the FVR scholarship fund for underprivileged children in our area that would otherwise not be able to participate in our programs.
How is this show different from previous productions? Each show is a new experience, and the group dynamic makes each cast different. It is always a journey of artistic discovery with the kids. Alice is a tricky show due to the fantasy aspect. But the kids have wonderful imaginations. Each child brings a different approach to their character as well as great ideas for the show. I love to hear their suggestions and incorporate them whenever possible.
What is unique about FVRPAA? FVR has the most extensive performing arts academy in the western suburbs including classes for all ages, internships and advanced audition-only projects such as “Alice in Wonderland.” I am especially proud of our staff and the performance space. Our instructors and staff are professionals in their fields, and offer the students a real-world experience. Many of our students have been hired for our professional shows. Next up: “The Woman in Black” cast 3 of our teenagers in the show, and 4 of our younger students will be making their professional debut in “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” this holiday season. Artistic Director John Gawlik makes it a point of offering as many paying roles as possible to young actors from our academy. No other theater offers this exceptional opportunity.
Any interesting history of the theater? Pheasant Run Resort opened their first dinner theater, The Pheasant Run Playhouse, in 1964. Pheasant Run partnered with the newly formed Noble Fool Theatricals and introduced the renovated mainstage theater in 2004. In 2011, we became Fox Valley Repertory,???½a name that better represented the strong bond we have created with our patrons and community.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching 6-9 year olds? The kids are so excited and passionate, and typically fearless on stage. My only challenge is keeping them quiet without squashing their enthusiasm!
Anything else you would like to include? I have the best job in the world at the best theatre ever!
Alice cast Members include: Aurora: Anna Laurich, Bartlett: Willow Apponi, Allison Belliveau, Batavia: Madelynn Calbeck, Elburn: Mary-Kate Griffin, Jenna Kraus, Geneva: Maya Hawkins, Erin Hurley, Ella Kobylecky, Sophie Nunez, Carly Rasmussen, Hanover Park: Hayley Troyan, South Elgin: Carolyn Calbeck, Christina Calbeck, Robert Keldani, St Charles: Anna Crowell, Kaitlyn Crowell, Katie Das, Kristen Das, Erika Denker, Keira Denker, Kathryn Dybas, Malea Kinnison, Daniella Taylor, and West Chicago: Ashley Peters, Lindsay Peters.
For more information, visit www.foxvalleyrep.org/education or call 630-364-0550.
Each month, FVR Performing Arts Academy selects an outstanding student to be featured in the Student Spotlight of the Month. The selected student is featured in the FVR Playbill and on the blog. Our current Student Spotlight recipient is Sydney Poss!
Sydney Poss is an 8 1/2 year old third grader at Fearn Elementary School. In just one year with the Fox Valley Rep Performing Arts Academy, she has taken her teachers and fellow students by storm with her amazing talent at such a young age.
Sydney’s first performance on the Pheasant Run Mainstage was in the FVR Academy’s kids musical performance of Sleeping Beauty. Playing the wicked role of “Malificent” was memorable for her.
“I really enjoyed the first time I walked out on stage,” sayd Sydney. “I was so excited when I realzed that I was entertaining people!” Sydney adds, “Right before Sleeping Beauty started, me and my friends were excited and nervous, so we did jumping jacks backstage! We laughed and helped each other get ready to go on stage and have fun.”
This winter, Sydney landed the lead role as “Snow White” in FVR Academy’s kids musical performance of Snow White and the Seen Dwarfs. She plans on taking more academy classes this spring with Instructor and Education Manager Tracy Whiteside.
“I have learned so much about acting from Tracy Whiteside. It is also so fun to ave friends who enjoy theater the way I do,” says Sydney.
Though this is her first year with the FVR Acadey, she is no stranger to the arts. Sydney placed in her school talent show three years in a row. She also sang and won third place in the 2010 Kane County Fair talent show. ANd as a result, this summer she performed “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid on the mainstage at the Kane County Fair. Sydney is a member of the Swedish American Children’s Choir, performing at a variety of local venues including Geneva’s Swedish Days.
“Sydney is such a great 3rd grader! She bring the same enthusiasm and hard work to the classroom a she does to the stage,” says Ms. York, Sydney’s third grade teacher at Fearn Elementary School in North Aurora. “It truly amazes me how committed she is to learning in the classroom and performing outside of school. I know she will go far in her future!”
When asked about her future goals, she will tell you that she wants to continue performing in musicals here at Fox Valley Rep and eventually become a professional singer. And since Sydney was invited by Fox Valley Rep to perform as a feature soloist at their inaugural Masquerade Ball and Ribbon Cutting Event (and was congratulated for her talents by St. Charles Mayor Dewitte), she is well on the way to becoming an accomplished performer.
Each month, FVR Performing Arts Academy selects an outstanding student to be featured in the Student Spotlight of the Month. The selected student is featured in the FVR Playbill and on the blog. Our current Student Spotlight recipient is Emma Conrad!
Emma Conrad is a 9-year-old 4th grade student at Fabyan Elementary School in Geneva. Emma has transformed the staircase into a “stage” in each home her family has lived in since she was a toddler. She loves to write plays and songs and perform them for anyone willing to watch. She took her first theater class, TV Commercials and Monologues taught by Tracy Whiteside, when she was just five years old. Since then, she’s participated in several NFT programs (now FVR Academy in 2011) taught by Education Manager, Tracy Whiteside. She played Nibs in Peter Pan, Lily St. Regis in Annie, Frenchy in Grease, Portia (stepsister) in Cinderella, and King Stefan in Sleeping Beauty.
Emma’s favorite roles have been Frenchy, Lily St. Regis and Portia (stepsister). Emma loves comedic acting which was quite evident in each of these three roles. She loves to hear the audience laugh. She is considering taking an Improv Comedy class at FVR in the near future.
Emma said that she would like to play the role of “the mean character” one day. Those who know Emma laugh when they hear her say this. A friend of the family said, “Emma is one of the most open-hearted, kind, generous, thoughtful girls and she wants to be the ‘mean person’. It’s like the person she will never be in real life can sneak out in an acceptable way. Too too funny!” Her kindness shows as she interacts with her fellow cast members, her friends & classmates at school and in the outreach projects in which she has participated. Emma’s mom says, “Emma has always had a heart of compassion for others. It’s a gift she was born with and we just try to nurture her caring heart.”
She has enjoyed volunteering to help others and participating in mission projects such as Feed My Starving Children, playing games with children at a local homeless shelter, playing bingo wih the residents at a local nursing home and sponsoring a Compassion International child in Nicaragua. It’s been a please for Emma and her family to be a part of the NFT family who also belives in helping others. In 2010, the NFT Performing Arts Academy casts of 6 to 9 year olds in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty reached out to others as they accepted donation of shoes and sleepwear in lieu of admission fees at these shows to benefit children in need. Emma’s mom says, “the cast members, cast families, friends, people in the community and the NFT staff supported these donation drives with love and enthusiasm. It was truly heartwarming to see everyone come together to help others.”
Tracy Whiteside, FVR Education Manager says, “Emma has always demonstrated maturity and talent far beyond her years. She is so deserving of this honor. I couldn’t be more happy for her!”
When Emma grows up, she wants to be a hairdresser, a teacher or a veteinarian. She enjoys swimming at her neighborhood pool during the summer months, playing with her dog Sadie, writing plays and stories, attending youth group at church, playing hair stylist with her American Girl dolls or playing teacher in her “school” set up in her basement.
Hey everyone! My name is Carolyn Knol, I’m 16 and go to Geneva High School and I am playing Nicole in this year’s NFT Academy’s summer play of FAME. But this isn’t my first show with NFT; I have also been in The Audition and the youth ensemble’s Wizard of Oz. So far everyone has been great – the cast has really gotten to know each other really well and we will all be leaving this show with a ton of new friends. The rehearsals are long but really fun, even though it has been a long process I know this show is going to pull together and be great. I really enjoy doing the plays at NFT because they are something different and give those who don’t sing a chance to be on stage and perform. I hope you guys all come out and see FAME either Friday, August 20th at 7pm or Saturday, August 21st at 2pm on the Pheasant Run Mainstage.
For more information on FAME or the NFT Performing Arts Academy, go to www.noblefool.org/education.
Meet Erin Gautille – a 15-year-old sophomore at St. Charles East High School. Being cast as Marie Garcy in NFT Performing Arts Academy’s summer play FAME is her debut with Noble Fool, although she has worked with many other theater companies. Acting isn’t her only talent – she sings in the choir, plays in the band and is very talented in the art of karate. Erin has taken the time to take note of the rehearsal process and share it with you. Enjoy!
July 8th: Today I am not attending rehearsal because I am in South Caroline for Karate Nationals!
July 15th: This was my FIRST rehearsal because of being going last week. I was worried that I would be behind in getting to know the cast members an that I would have missed some of the blocking. Luckily, that was not the cast. Everyone was very nice and I did not feel like the odd one out.
Jully 22nd: I have been very excited to work with Tracy Whiteside because I have heard great things about her and I am finding them to be true! It is always a very cool experience to get the opportunity to work with different directors becayse you learn different things and you get to have a new perspective on ways to do things.
July 28th: After doing this role for a few weeks I am really starting to enjoy it a lot. This has been a fun challenge for me because I have never played ‘the comedian’ before. It has been very nice to have the encouragement of both Tracy and our Assistant Director, Katie, telling me that I am doing a wonderful job portraying the character.
August 5th: Today the entire cast was supposed to do two things: be off book (lines memorized) and bring a possible costume. Tracy didn’t expect for Allie and I to be off book because of the amount of lines that we have. I was very proud of myself because I didn’t need my script and I didn’t need that much help. I think that finding costumes for a show is a lot of fun and that it helps you understand your character a lot more. I have been learning a lot about character appropriate stage business. It is helping take my character from good to awesome!
August 12th: This week no one was on top of their game so we didn’t have the best rehearsal we are capable of. I am sure it will be a lot better next week for the dress rehearsal!
Come and see Fame’s free showcase on the Pheasant Run Mainstage on Friday, August 20th at 7pm or Saturday, August 21 at 2pm. Visit www.noblefool.org/education for more information!
Erin Gautille is pictured above with fellow Fame cast members in the 3rd row, second from the right.
Fame cast members include: Aurora: Michelle Nagy, Bartlett: Natalie Hilvert, Jesse Kennelly, Batavia : Aidan Descourouez, Megan Warren, Carol Stream: Dena Buttacavoli, Ashley Mortensen, Elgin: Jessi Lewandowski, Geneva: Kendall Becker, Melanie Burkhardt, Ally Carrino, Carolyn Knol, Melanie Kohout, Michelle Rodriguez, Sara Schennum, Jenna Velisek, Glen Ellyn: Sarah Schulte, North Aurora: Ashlyn Stanton Palatine: Kyle Krejci Plano: Stirling Joyner St. Charles: Kayleigh Aleck, Lauren Farrow, Erin Gautille, Dylan O’Driscoll, Samantha Ruehle, Carissa Ward Sleepy Hollow : Tori Tellschow South Elgin : Lindsay Kostner Wayne: Justine Izewski West Chicago: Bailey Chavez, Amanda Jackson and Winfield: Megan Tennis