WENATCHEE — There are 76 children in this fall’s Stage Kids Washington musical — along with “76 Trombones.”
Director Michelle McCormick wanted a multi-generational show to celebrate the organization’s fifth anniversary and decided on Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.”
“It’s just a classic that all ages will enjoy,” McCormick said. “I think that’s another reason people should come, because it’s an entertaining show regardless of what age you are.”
“The Music Man” runs Nov. 20-24 at the Numerica Performing Arts Center.
The musical, which opened on Broadway in 1957, follows traveling salesman Harold Hill, who cons residents of the fictional River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms so he can organize a youth marching band. He plans to leave with the money but instead falls for librarian Marian.
It’s one of Stage Kids’ Spotlight Productions, held every spring and fall. All students who register for these shows are cast, but they must attend seven-week classes through the organization to develop their skills.
The cast of “The Music Man” includes students from Quincy to Chelan in grades 3-8, their older siblings and parents.
“Even though it’s Stage Kids, the parents are behind-the-scenes, so this time we wanted to give them the opportunity to step out on stage,” McCormick said. “It’s multi-generational, and there’s certain roles in the show that make more sense for adults to play than to have kids trying to play adults. A lot of shows are just geared toward young kids, but this one in particular has a lot of adults in it.”
Stage Kids often does abridged versions, she said, but “The Music Man” is a full-length show with nearly 100 people filling out two different casts. Double casting started a few productions ago because more children were registering than there were parts.
“It’s extremely hard because we have fewer rehearsal hours with each cast, but we have to teach it quicker, at a much faster pace,” she said. “But we have so many experienced alumni kids coming back now. They learn quickly and they know that we have to keep moving and we have to keep driving forward. … I would say out of that 76, we probably have 12-15 new kids.”
McCormick founded Stage Kids in San Jose, California, in 2010 and then in Wenatchee in 2014. Along with classes and Spotlight Productions, the organization offers camps and a summer show for teenage performers.
Stage Kids’ staff has grown from three to about 20, McCormick said, and the program sees up to 500 children each year.
Although she may have a certain actor in mind for a role, she tries not to pre-cast because children’s skills may have improved since she last saw them. Singing is most important, she said, followed by acting and dancing.
“They should expect some amazing talent, some beautiful voices, top-notch costuming,” McCormick said. “Our scenery projections are fun and unique and just add a different technical element to the show. More than anything, I think people should come to the show because not only will they be entertained, but they will be supporting youth arts in our community.”