Musical marks Peter Quince Performing Company's 40th season
This theater group may be celebrating its 40th season, but its members are no older than 23.
That's because the Peter Quince Performing Company of Manitowoc was founded exclusively to give the area's young adults an avenue for their creativity.
That youthful exuberance was palpable as the group recently prepared for its upcoming musical "Fame" in an atmosphere of controlled chaos at a warehouse rehearsal space.
Band members practiced their numbers in a makeshift pit as actors, dancers and singers assembled for their numbers and behind-the-scenes crewmembers went about their work.
"Fame" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7-10 at the Capitol Civic Centre, 913 S. Eighth St.
The musical is about the trials and tribulations of a group of high school students at a performing arts high school in New York City.
"It follows them their last year as they deal with prejudice, drugs, illiteracy and sexuality," said director Curtis Vandenbusch.
"Fame" is designed to do more than entertain as it takes its audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions through everything from happy love scenes to fierce arguments to comedic parts and even dealing with death, he said.
"We're trying to send a message," Vandenbusch said. "I would like the audience to realize that the issues being portrayed on stage are real life."
Just as the theater group has matured, so has its 40th anniversary offering as it tackles these complex issues.
"This might be a show that's a little racier that Quince has done in the past," Vandenbusch said. "We want to show the community in our 40th year that we can do what other theater companies do ... and do it well."
Amanda Wachholz plays the main character of Carmen Diaz, who tries to outshine everyone in her quest to make it big.
"She is a diva," said Wachholz. "She thinks she's the best in the world."
But her character isn't one-dimensional.
"I have one soft side in this show ... Schlomo (Zach Glaeser). He's my love interest," Wachholz said. "We have a connection and we write music together. He's the only one who really cares about me as a person. He sees the real Carmen."
Amanda Kay Thomm's character, Serena Katz, offers a contrast to Carmen.
"She's a lot more sheltered than Carmen, that's for sure," Thomm said. "She wants to be a movie star but all that changes when she meets Nick. He's more into theater. He's a method actor. She just sees that and she's floored by it. She sees him as a role model. ... She really grows as a person and an actress."
Brian Schneider plays Nick Piazza, a talented and driven student who has gained attention because of his work in television commercials.
"He wants to be more than just a TV actor," Schneider said. "He wants to leave his mark on society."
As Schneider's first major lead, the role is not without its challenges.
"I had to do a lot more digging into my character, a lot more studying the relationship he has with other characters," he said.
Steven LaFond as Jack Zakowski and Heather Hirvela as Iris Kelly play another romantically involved couple, Vandenbusch said.
Their conflict comes in when she finds out he's illiterate and decides "she doesn't want to be with a loser," he said.
In addition to the title song "Fame," the show features such numbers as "Hard Work," which opens the show.
"The opening number sets the scene for the whole play telling the audience how hard a performing arts job really is," Vanderbusch said.
Schneider described the music in the show as modern with an added Spanish flavor to reflect the Carmen Diaz character.
"A lot of it is very fun and upbeat that you can sing along and dance to," Schneider said. "The slow numbers are very emotionally driven and powerful."
Among his favorite musical numbers is "The Love Scene Reprise," a bittersweet duet he and Thomm sing after prom as they realize how much the past year has meant to them and as they look forward to the future with uncertainty, Schneider said.
The "Bring on Tomorrow Reprise," a song that the characters Carmen and Schlomo have written together, closes the show.
The show features 14 main characters, 24 chorus members and 10 pit band members. Support is provided by about 12 crew members.
Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for students, 18 and under. For ticket information, call (920) 683-2184.
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