For most of the holiday season, I’m a crazed mom and whiplashed business owner, trying to get it all done. I know these roles. I’ve been playing them for several years now.
But on December 12 and 13, I’m going to prance as a showgirl reindeer, dance like a jammin’ schoolteacher and hoof it as a chorus “girl” (uh, woman) in Ballet Austin’s “Holiday Road” in The AustinVentures StudioTheater. These are new roles for me at age 39, a born-again dancer who went back to the studio in 2008 after a 10-year absence.
When I walked into the first “Holiday Road” workshop rehearsal in September, I didn’t know what roles I would play. That’s a big difference between a workshop and other musical theatre productions. By working with cast members individually and collectively to produce a new work, “Holiday Road” directors/choreographers Danny Herman and Rocker Verastique are creating a realistic New York workshop experience for both aspiring amateurs and professional performers.
What’s so special about a workshop? Well, back in the blistering heat of July, when we were cranking up the volume on the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” (admit it), Herman and Verastique were up to their ears in holiday songs. They listened to dozens of classic Christmas songs and little-known holiday gems by everyone from the Barenaked Ladies and Bing Crosby to Taylor Swift and Brian Setzer Orchestra. With musical ideas and songs on paper, they formed ideas for a story and began writing a script.
Then they wait for the cast to gather. We’re a self-selected group. We pay for the experience and the opportunity to perform.
When the workshop began, Herman and Verastique shared their vision, story ideas and songs. They launched into an intuitive and imaginative process of creating an entirely original show. It happens every week before our eyes – brainstorming, casting, choreographing … storytelling, scripting, staging.
As directors, they work with the talent that they get. We’re a mixed bag of us abilities, ages and experience: some are dancers who don’t usually sing (that’s me); singers who may be shy about their dancing; and “triple threat” talents who act, sing and dance.
The real miracle on W. 3rd Street is that Herman and Verastique bring out the best in everybody in this workshop process. Everyone gets a part that’s tailor made for them and their strengths. (See the crazed schoolteacher on the bus full of kids? That’s me!) “Holiday Road” may not be Broadway bound, but it creates opportunities for everyone to shine in a one-of-a-kind production. That may be the best gift of the season – for the cast and its audience alike.
Click here to purchase tickets to a performance of Holiday Road.
Click here to register for the Spring Musical Theatre Performance Workshop 100 Years of Broadway.