Classes have let out, but EPISD students are hard at work rehearsing, building sets, making costumes and practicing sheet music in preparation for the 2016 summer musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
The musical will run July 20-23 at the Coronado High School Fine Arts building, 100 Champions Pl. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $5 at the door.
A Tony Award Winner, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is set in New York City in 1922. The musical required students to hone not only their singing but also their tapping skills as well.
“We started to get the kids involved in tap dancing, which is a lost art,” choreographer Reuben Reza said. “There’s a lot of tap dancing and a lot of choreography. All of us this year have worked so well together. It’s been a great experience.”
The one of a kind program is open to all EPISD high school students, with more than 40 students auditioning this summer for a part in the production.
Students work on and off stage with directors Christy Moss and Fernando Arana, as well as music, orchestra, tech and costume directors, to make sure it all comes together when the red curtain comes up opening night.
This is the third year El Paso High student Alexandra Koplos participates in the summer musical, and she is more than excited to play the lead role of Millie.
“This is my first time being a lead in a musical. It is a very crazy experience because of how many songs and dances you are involved with. You really have to put in a lot of time and effort,” Koplos said.
Koplos really enjoys working with the different directors and meeting students from all over EPISD.
“It’s not your typical high school musical. Everyone puts in all their hard work, and it really shows,” Koplos said. “I would have never met these amazing, talented people if it hadn’t been for this program.”
Her co-star and Franklin student Zachary Spencer-Weigart agrees. He is playing Koplos love interest in the story — a big deal for him as a first-year participant in the program.
“I think having kids from all the different EPISD schools meet here in one place to put on this professional musical production is just so amazing,” Spencer-Weigart said. “I think people should definitely come out and check out the show because we have been putting in a lot of work.”
While the actors are busy rehearsing their lines and dance numbers on stage there is a whole crew of teachers, students and volunteers behind the scenes building sets and props, making costumes and doing whatever is necessary to help make the show come to life.
Austin theater teacher David Alba instructed the students on how to design and weld special desks with wheels for several of the key scenes in the musical.
“This entails knowing the script really well and knowing the era. From there we start figuring out what set pieces we need to design,” Alba said. “It requires a lot of research and a lot of these students just do it because they have a great love for musical theater.”
Knowing the era is also key when it comes to costume design. The students not only have to act the part, but they have to look the part. Teachers and students work together closely to alter and create the necessary costumes for the show.
Every detail is well thought out and executed to create a professional show in this unique summer program.
“One of the best things about our District is that it is one of the oldest fine arts camps in Texas that is free for kids. Normally a camp like this would cost $800 to $1,200,” director Fernando Arana said. “It is one of the things our District is doing wonderful in supporting the fine arts.”
For more information, call the EPISD Fine Arts department at (915) 760-8520