BWW Features/Interviews: Act Two @ Levine Gearing Up for Yet Another Ambitious Year Training DC's Youth
Previously, BroadwayWorld DC reported on a dynamic musical theatre training program for the DC Metro Area's youth at Levine, a well-respected community music school. Previously staging ambitious musicals such as Rent and Next to Normal, Act Two @ Levine, under the direction of Kevin Kuchar, proves that it certainly does not back away from a challenge, nor does it rest on its laurels. If its 2013-2014 season is any indication of the program's future, it's getting more ambitious and all-encompassing if anything. Now offering three training programs for students at all experience levels, which feature partnerships with well-respected arts institutions in the area, the initiative is growing in an astounding way. As the students take part in full theatrical productions and work with some of DC and Broadway's best, they have fun while learning skills that can prepare them for a future in the theatre - which some ultimately choose to pursue - and other skills like teamwork and hard-work that can be applied in all areas of their current and future lives.
This year's three training programs will feature a total of six full theatrical productions which are developed in a professional yet nurturing atmosphere. Whether one is a really talented high school student and participates in the Pre-Professional Program, a musical theatre-loving middle school or high school student eager to take part in a Mainstage production, or a middle schooler taking part in the new First Act Program, there are options to explore.
This year, Act Two @ Levine continues to host a selective, audition-based, process-oriented, and intensive Pre-Professional Program for high school students. This year's cast members will tackle three contemporary award-winning musicals - a stirring drama, a satire, and a hilarious comedy - performing in two of them and then learning about other technical/administrative/creative aspects of putting on a theatrical production through a third apprenticeship. On the slate is Jason Robert Brown (Music and Lyrics) and Alfred Uhry's (Book) historical drama Parade, which will receive performances on January 31-February 2, 2014 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater's newest space, the intimate Kogod Cradle. The talented teens follow this up with a production of the socially-conscious Urinetown at DC's edgy (and equally ambitious/socially-conscious) Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's Rehearsal Hall on March 7-9, 2014. It's a solid fit for the venue to be sure. Last up is Eric Idle's Spamalot - ripped off from a classic Monty Python film - which will be in production at the THEARC Theater in Southeast, DC on May 2-4, 2014. An eclectic mix of shows, no?
Act Two @ Levine also continues its successful and popular Mainstage Program, which offers middle school and high school students of all levels to experience the thrill of putting on a full production while also learning valuable theatre skills. Such skills include 'understanding your character,' voice, and movement. This year's show - also a Tony Award winner - is In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Music and Lyrics) and Quiara Alegría Hudes' heartwarming yet musically diverse exploration of life in Washington Heights, a primarily Latin neighborhood in New York City. I've complained in recent years that this particular show has not been done enough - if at all - in the DC area since it premiered on Broadway while some of its contemporaries get multiple productions. As such, I am particularly looking forward to seeing how the students bring this one to life at Georgetown Prep's Figge Theatre in North Bethesda, MD on November 15-17, 2013.
This year also features a new program, First Act, that's specifically geared to middle school students. The participants will take on Andrew Lloyd Webber (Music) and Tim Rice's (Lyrics) seemingly endlessly popular Biblically-inspired Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at a 'to be determined' location in the arts-rich Montgomery County, MD, on January 10-12, 2014. They'll also deal with that man-eating plant in Alan Menken (Music) and Howard Ashman's (Book and Lyrics) Little Shop of Horrors at Roundhouse Theatre's space in Silver Spring, MD on April 25-27, 2014. Through each of these experiences, the students will get a taste of putting on a show in a professional environment while learning an array of theatre skills.
As if the chance to put on a full theatrical production - many times at one of the area's most renowned theatres where the greats have worked - isn't enough, Act Two @ Levine also has plenty of other educational opportunities for its participants in conjunction with some of the most established arts institutions in the area.