Theater is great training for life.
"It builds life skills, including the confidence to get out there and do it," said Colin Meiring with the Vail Performing Arts Academy.
Fifty local kids will hit the stage this weekend to sing, dance and act - the performance trifecta - for "On Broadway," the Vail Performing Arts Academy's spring showcase.
It's a review, a variety show. Last year it was country and western. A couple years back it was a rock show. This year it's a Broadway variety show.
The music matters, of course, and "On Broadway" is a home run, but the lessons learned matter as much, Meiring said. Such as how to get 50 kids moving in the same direction at the same time, and try things they didn't think they could do.
For example, Meiring was in "A Chorus Line" on Broadway so they're performing "One Singular Sensation." He taught the kids, even the little ones, the actual Broadway choreography. It's a complicated number and they handle it with aplomb.
In the Broadway show, Meiring performed the part of Larry, the choreographer in the play. It was easy to recall how it goes, he said.
"I did it for 18 months, eight shows a week. It's not all glory," he said.
"On Broadway" will feature hits from "Hair," "Rent," "Chorus Line," "Spamalot," "Spelling Bee," "Newsies," "Oliver," "Billy Elliot," "West Side Story," "Wicked," "Aquarius," "Hair," "West Side Story" ... the list is impressive.
"Colin picked some of the favorite numbers," said Annah Scully, founder of the Vail Performing Arts Academy. "The material alone makes it good. Add these talented kids and it becomes a fantastic experience for both the performers and the audience."
Every kid is a highlight, of course, but keep an eye on Julia Shay. The 8 year old is singing, "Castle in the Clouds" from "Les Miserables."
"She's a small thing, but singing this song is no small thing," Meiring said.
And Garvin VanDernoot doesn't just sing "Dancing Through Life," he performs it, Meiring said.
"He's not only singing, he's dancing and holding a microphone and acting and dancing with a girl at the same time," Meiring said. "You have to be good at all three elements: singing, dancing and acting."
"Hair" and "Aquarius" are a throwback and the kids nail it, Scully said.
"They make some very convincing hippies," Scully laughed.
Scully taught English in that building when it was Battle Mountain High School. She put her students on that stage in those days, and now their kids are on that same stage.
"There's so much camaraderie with these productions. Every rehearsal is filled with passion and enthusiasm," Scully said.
An education in theatrics
The kids rehearse once a week on Sundays. That's the schedule in the spring and fall when the kids are in school, and have all kinds of other things going on. It's more intense in the summer when the kids are in the Vail Performing Arts Academy's theater camp every day, Meiring said.
Performances like this Broadway showcase are possible because Meiring makes it possible, Scully said.
Meiring started performing at the age of six, winning ballroom dancing titles all over South Africa. He tried his hand at musical theater, television and film and performed in national tours of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Grease," "Camelot," "A Chorus Line" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
He performed with Ertha Kit, Ben Vereen, Gloria Estefan, Mary Wilson and Tony Danza while entertaining for Royal Caribbean and Silversea Cruises. He performed on Broadway and in the national tour of "Fosse."
Scully founded Vail Performing Arts Academy in 1996 to bring theatrical education and performing arts opportunities to local students.
She taught high school English in Boulder and Vail and has performed on stage and screen. Her entertainment company, "To Die For Entertainment," produced corporate, private and public events in Colorado and California.
The Vail Performing Arts Academy is already planning its summer production, the "Little Mermaid Junior." Auditions are May 5. Sign up on the website vpaa.org.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.