Edited by Ammie Bryant
Every summer, the Stillwater Public Library presents one of the best children’s programs around. For many years, the Children’s Operetta has kicked off that program. Much hard work is put into making that performance happen. For the performers, the process begins with auditions in March. We visited with Rana McCoy, local music teacher and Director of the Children’s Operetta about how this tradition began and what keeps it going year after year.
Q: How did the Children’s Operetta get started?
A: The idea of a summer children’s operetta was introduced at a national piano teachers conference I attended in July 1996. I immediately loved the idea for Stillwater! I came home with a script and a dream. We did not have a children’s theater program in the area, and I felt it would be a wonderful opportunity to grow young people to be poised and confident in front of others. Stillwater Public Library did not use local talent for the summer reading programs at the time, but Sue Busch, the children’s library specialist, praised the idea and supported it fully. Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library director, and Elizabeth Murray, children’s library specialist, continue to support and cheer us on today. I then called my friend Diane Dean, former Highland Park librarian, and we got to work. Children’s Operetta was born.
Q: How many children have participated in the program through the years?
A: This is our 22nd year, and we are still having so much fun! Approximately 550 children have performed in our operettas. Many have returned to be part of the stage crew, run the sound and/or lights, do artwork for the set, signs, flyers, and t-shirts. This is a great learning experience for them to see and appreciate the different aspects of how a show works; and they are great at it. A good number of our former cast members have been in high school and college shows, and have also done professional theater. Our performances are free to the public due to our WONDERFUL sponsors. We have local businesses who have so blessed us with their support and encouragement to make these shows available for all to see with no admission charge.
Q: What is this year’s production?
A: This year’s production is “A Thoroughly Modern Rapunzel”. Performances are set for a Monday, June 4 @ 7:00, and Tuesday, June 5 @ 10:00, 1:30, and 3:30. Rehearsals will be May 29, 30, 31, and June 1 and 4. Yep, we do it in a short period of time. Cast members receive their t-shirt, script and cd before May 1, so they can work on their lines and songs. This is a hilarious adaptation of the fairy tale favorite. We first presented our Rapunzel in 2008. It is not just a girly tale, because the boys have terrific roles in any show we do.
Q: How can children audition for the production?
A: We will have auditions and callbacks on Sunday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on the third floor of Stillwater Public Library. Those completing second-seventh grades may audition. There is a workshop fee of $99 that is due at audition. They will read from the script and sing “My Country, ‘tis of Thee” a cappella. If they have other talents to share, they may do so. I do need someone who can use a pogo stick (provided). Our witch gets sick if she flies on a broom…
Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Children’s Operetta?
A: We have watched these children grow and flourish. I actually tweak the script every year to feature our cast’s abilities and skills. My favorite part about teaching anything is the process. I have so enjoyed watching these children realize what they can do, and mature in their gifts. The joy is in the journey; come and enjoy it with us!
Children’s Operetta sponsors for 2018 are: Stillwater Arts and Humanities, Charlie’s Drug, Continental Concrete, OnCue, Pioneer Tire, Chris’ University Spirit, Page Provence-Fisher Provence Realtors, Mindy Murray-Farmers Insurance, G&M Body Shop, Kicker, Walmart, Aspen Coffee, Mazzio’s, and Instrumental Inspirations. They make these shows possible.