In addition to directing & choreographing the Illinois Premiere of Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical!, I also got to return to one my most treasured shows and programs!
The McLeod Summer Playhouse season typically includes two mainstage shows in the McLeod Theater with the professional company, plus a Theater for Young Audiences production in the intimate blackbox theater. At the end of the MSP Professional season, we collaborate with Carbondale Community Arts to present the ALL-SOUTHERN HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE PROJECT. This musical theater intensive is a four-week immersive experience filled with rehearsals, workshops, classes, and culminates with a full-fledged professional production on the MSP stage! The high school students from the Southern Illinois region audition to get into the program each year, then it's off to the races in July.
This is my THIRD year working with the program! In 2017, I assisted Wes Drummond on his production of Singin' in the Rain. In 2018, I directed Once Upon a Mattress and then, I directed & choreographed one of my favorite musicals this summer, The Drowsy Chaperone, with these incredible students!
Many moons ago, I played Janet van de Graaff at the Venice Theatre in Florida... and it was a special experience. You know those shows that just have the perfect mix of great people, great times, great experience, and great theater? THAT was Drowsy in 2012. And who woulda thunk that I would be returning to the musical again, this time at the helm!? Definitely not me. But, I'm so so grateful I got the chance.
These students, ranging from incoming freshman to graduating seniors, are incredible. Some of them are heading off to impressive BFA programs (and I'm so proud!), while others, this was one of their very first experiences like this on stage. I pushed them and challenged them, and we created something so beautiful and special.
And did I mention we had FUN? Yes. This show is quite fun. And challenging! This choreography is no joke! I have never choreographed a 4-minute tap routine before. Especially one so intricate as "Cold Feets" for two male tap dancers.
I think the thing I'm most proud of, is the fact that I directed AND choreographed that thing. And slapped a unique and enlightening concept on it, that was born out of a fever dream. It was a mammoth undertaking. I was so ready for it, and yet it challenged just about every creative bone in my body. And, the reward was so sweet. I loved every minute of it.
Danae DeShazer is an actress, singer, and dancer living in Sarasota, FL.