The July 12-15 production will be directed by Karen Hughes Beacom (Lion King Jr. 2018 and The Wizard of Oz 2017). Beacom herself loves to dance, sing, and act and loves setting movement to music. Doing all of the choreography for Lion King and Wizard was a thrill.
However, Beacom knew she would need more than her musical theater dance training to make Grease what she envisioned for the Soo Theatre. “We really needed a true choreographer to bring this show to life on our stage and to pull out the best of the abilities in the cast.” Cue Deborah Choszczyk.
Choszczyk and Beacom had previously worked together at LSSU, with Beacom directing and Choszczyk choreographing “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” Beacom remembers the work so fondly. “Deb would come in on a Sunday with the most well planned and creative ideas for the dance numbers and expertly teach them to the cast. We would typically review the number the following Thursday and that was all she wrote!”
She always wanted to have the chance to work with Choszczyk again and nine years later, this was the show that was meant to be.
Ms. Choszczyk attended Kirtland Community College, AA Liberal Arts where she assisted the Grand Rapids Ballet in auditioning and casting members of the community for a Nutcracker performance. She then went on to receive a BA with Honors in Theatre and Dance at Alma College. Her area of expertise was Dance History and Ancient Egyptian Dance. Ms. Choszczyk earned her MAED at Hamline University. Her capstone was on Dance Education in Higher Education. Deborah was Dance Director at LSSU for eight years where she created and implemented the first Dance Minor in the UP and was awarded Distinguished Faculty of 2013. Since then she wrote a book for children based on a ballet she wrote for the stage, Faeries of the Night, and now teaches adult ballet in Marquette.
What does a musical theatre production such as Willy Wonka, Grease, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, or even Phantom of the Opera need with dance? As production choreographer, this was the first question Deb asked our Willy Wonka campers at the Soo Theatre Musical Theatre camp this week. The simple answer; dance helps tell our story without words, sometimes even stronger than words. Ah, yes, body language! The world of movement as a means to improve communication, body/kinesthetic awareness, creative expression, self-confidence, self- esteem and perceptual motor development is born and takes flight.
From casting on day one, the excitement over dance has grown into what has become such a rewarding rehearsal process for all. Dancers with training from our local dance companies are being featured in their elements of study and non-seasoned dancers are finding their perhaps rusty or new found rhythm. Everyone is being pushed beyond their initial expectations and everyone is pushing themselves to be the very best they can be.
It has been a real honor to have Deb back in the Soo, where she taught, created, and performed for so many years, including numerous local charities during her time here. The Festival of Trees tradition that has been carried on with Allure Dance Company, The Academy of Performing Arts, and the Soo Theatre was started by Choszczyk.
“What do I love about this opportunity? The kids; their enthusiasm, their innocent passion for touching the soul of a character, finding it and making it their own. With each measure of music, each line of dialogue, each dance combination they find ways to make it their own and give it life. I love seeing it all come together, and it does when the time is right!”
“I have been teaching dance long enough to know that essential life skills will be passed on. My rehearsals include work in body strength, flexibility, creativity, improvisation, group commitment, and problem solving while stressing expression and positive interaction with others.”
You don’t want to miss the chance to see the results of this dynamic duo. Leading this dynamite cast are seasoned veterans Lola Kennedy as Sandy and Matt Gilbertson as Danny. Leading role debuts are being made at Soo Theatre by Ariana Atkinson as Patty Simcox, Emma Mansfield as Rizzo, Sydney Kuenzer as Marty, Amy Clegg as Jan, Mason Stierley as Roger, Sam Cox as Kenickie, and Elizabeth Curtis as Frenchy. Returning favorites include Riley Wilson as Doody, David Weber as Sonny, and Ross Malaska as Eugene.
Soo Theatre also welcomes Mark San Angelo and Tim Ellis to the party, as these two local radio personalities will share the role of Vince Fontaine. Ellis will perform the role on Thursday/Sunday and SanAngelo on Friday/Sunday.
Come out and experience the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s as we bring this story to life on Soo Theatre stage. Let’s fill our house July 12-15 and feel that “Summer Lovin!”
Tickets are on sale now: $20 for adults and $10 for students. This show is a “must see!”
Stay tuned for special events connected to the show!
Tickets for all of our shows can be purchased at the Soo Theatre Office by calling the office at 906-632-1930 or on our website.
Next weekend is also your chance to see Willy Wonka Jr, our Summer Musical Theatre Camp Production, directed by Karen Hughes Beacom, choreographed by Deborah Choszczyk, with the elementary portion of the camp directed by Dottie Case and assisted by Amy Clegg. Showtimes are 7pm Friday June 29 and 2pm Saturday June 30.
If you haven’t registered for camps, you can still stop in the office to do so. Soo Theatre has a limited number of needs-based scholarships available for the camps. You can stop in the office to pick up the scholarship application.
Soo Theatre Project, 534 Ashmun Street, SSM 49783 (906) 632-1930, www.sootheatre.org.
Soo Theatre… where there’s something for everyone!