The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 21, 2013

Players present ‘Stage Door’

DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College’s performing arts students promise to give audiences a taste of nostalgia from days long ago coupled with some lively Broadway tunes during their spring production of “Stage Door.”

The college’s liberal arts division and the DACC Players will present the play/musical revue at 7 p.m. April 5 and April 6, and at 2 p.m. April 7 in the Bremer Theater on DACC’s campus.

“It’s an old classic,” said speech instructor Glenda Boling, who is co-directing the play with Phillip Langley, lead instructor of developmental education. “People who love old classic movies will love this.”

“Stage Door” — written by Edna Ferber and George Kaufman in the late 1930s — takes a comedic yet realistic view of the life of a group of young aspiring actresses who live in a New York City rooming house called the Footlights Club as the women try to achieve their dream of being on Broadway.

Langley said the lead character, Terry Randall, portrayed by DACC Players veteran Katie Walder, “has talent, more talent than the rest of the rooming house.

“She doesn’t mince words; she’s headstrong; and she doesn’t want to sell out to Hollywood because she thinks Broadway is the true vision of acting,” he said.

“‘Stage Door’ originally was a film starring Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball,” Langley said. “It’s a forgotten classic, and we try to bring classics to the surface that have been forgotten.”

“Stage Door” also was selected as the spring production because the cast was large enough to accommodate the 35 students who were interested in being in the performance.

“The popularity of this class has been building on the popularity of ‘Hairspray,’” Langley said, referring to DACC’s fall production.

The play wasn’t originally set to music, so DACC music professor Eric Simonson and the DACC Players worked together to select excerpts from Broadway musicals spanning several decades — such as “Follies,” “Gypsy” and “Jekyll and Hyde” — to turn the local production into an entertaining musical revue.

One of the songs that will be performed during the production is “Give My Regards to Broadway,” which was first featured in the 1904 musical “Little Johnny Jones.”

“We’re inserting these musical numbers into the play because it really highlights the young girls’ Broadway aspirations in the play,” Simonson said.

Even though many of the show tunes were popular long before the DACC students were born, Langley said students enjoyed having a hand in selecting the old-time songs.

“They’re picking the parts of the songs that relate to them or their character in the play,” Langley said. “One young man picked a Frank Sinatra song because it fit his character and he had a personal connection to the song.”

The performers also found other ways to connect with the era of the play — whether it’s through their character or vintage clothing.

“I have to channel competitiveness into the character,” said first-year DACC student Brooke Kuchefski, who portrays Judith.

“I like the styles from the 1930s to the 1950s,” she said. “I enjoy the clothing and singing the music from that era.”

Second-year DACC student Tre’Anna Whitfield portrays Mrs. Orchutt, who is in charge of the Footlights Club rooming house.

“She is more of a house mother with rules and guidelines, and she’s supportive of the girls, but she tells them what the real world is like,” Whitfield said of her character. “She’s protective of the girls.”

As far as dressing up in old-time clothing, Whitfield said, “It’s not a big deal for me to dress up in costume because I was in show choir.”

Whitfield conceded she looked in her grandmother’s closet for clothes for the play and found a few dusters to wear.

First-year DACC student Blake Berenz portrays the father of the lead character Terry Randall.

“I play a doctor, but he’s a poor man’s doctor,” he explained. “I play a caring dad who meets his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time and I’m skeptical.”

The DACC students who are in the spring production are: Jacob Ault, Sarah Albers, Breely Arford, Blake Berenz, Shannon Black, Kelli Carlton, La Shawn Clark, Jonathan Claver, Drew Corbin, Jennifer Dilbeck, Stacy Draper, Aubrey Falconio, Sheanice Francher, Andy Gernand, Courtney Godley, Rachel Gross, Tyler Kelson, Victoria Hunt, Luke Hickman, Brooke Kuchefski, Bryan Jenkins, Zayne McCorkle, Seth McBride, Mandy McCool, Andrew McCurdy, Alexzandria Morris, Ryan Perez, Anree Pierce, Quan Rivers, Sage Russell, Ashley Thiele, Kaylee Turner, Katie Walder, Stephen Wolfe and Tre’Anna Whitfield.

Musical direction is by Simonson; stage direction is by Langley and Boling; and choreography is by Nicole Miller.

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