Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer at Signature: Stage One and Overtures

It's generally acknowledged that it's in the theatre industry's best interest to nuture the next generation of talent: The best way to ensure the quality of your future shows? Provide top-notch training. Signature is no stranger to this principle. In fact, Signature has been hosting summer musical theatre programs for young performing artists for over ten years. In both Stage One Workshops and Overtures, students are given the opportunity to further develop their performing skills in a professional and focused environment.

Overtures students rehearse for their final showcase.
Stage One Workshops: A Musical Theatre Intensive for Ages 14-17
In Stage One Workshops, high school students go through two weeks of all-day training in singing, dancing, and acting. An audition-based admission program, Stage One is competitive and those admitted have their work cut out for them. Trained by some of the best in the DC Metro area, students learn what will be expected of them as theatre professionals.

Overtures: Signature Theatre's Musical Theatre Institute 
Overtures in the next step in a musical-theatre hopeful's training. It is designed to benefit college students, recent grads, and early professionals seeking to advance their performing abilities. While two weeks in length like Stage One, Overtures requires longer hours, includes mock auditions in front of real casting directors and master classes with NY actors, provides individual as well as group coaching, and concludes with a public showcase performance. Overtures is grueling, but ultimately rewarding: "I have gotten some of the best training I have ever received here at Overtures... I really love that we are pushed out of our comfort zone... I can feel my growth as a performer" (2012 Overtures participant). Students leave Overtures with a better understanding of the business and more mature as artists.
"It's amazingly complete... I feel like I learned more that was practical for a life in the theatre than I did in four years of college." (2011 Overtures participant)
2011 Overtures Showcase. Photo: Dennis Deloria
Auditions for Overtures and Stage One typically occur in April and May, although this year we're having an additional day of auditions for Stage One on June 1 (read more here). For both programs, auditioners are asked to prepare to contrasting vocal selections and demonstrate their movement abilities in an open dance call.

The Pay-off
Do these programs really produce "good" performers? We'll let you be the judge:
  • Matthew Gardiner: Associate Artistic Director at Signature Theatre. 
  • Michael Mainwaring: DC actor currently in Thunder Knocking at the Door at Creative Cauldron, recently in Signature Theatre's Dreamgirls.
  • Florrie Bagel: NYC actor, recently in the US National Tour of Sister Act.
  • James Gardiner: DC actor currently in Company at Signature, book writer for the musical Glory Days. 
  • Hannah Willman: DC actor, recently in My Fair Lady at Arena Stage.
  • Nick Blaemire: NYC actor, recently in the Broadway revival of Godspell, lyricist and composer for the musical Glory Days.
  • Aaron Reeder: DC actor, currently in Show Boat at The Kennedy Center.
Looks like Signature should simply keep up the good work!


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