Set and Properties Design by William Boles

Our set and properties designer, William Boles, has been hard at work. Check out these images of the set model and come see the real thing July 12 – 22!

Set Design by
William Boles

Set Design by
William Boles

Set Design by
William Boles

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An Interview with the Director

We are kick starting our Zanna, Don’t! blog with a few words from director, Jess McLeod. This will be Jess’ second year with YAP, having directed YAPbook in 2011.  Let’s see what she has to say about her second year with YAP!

Becky: What made you come back to TMTC for the YAP show?

Jess: I love working with young performers.  During my time in high school, I craved the opportunity to talk about craft and process and the shows I was obsessed with, to grow even if I didn’t have the lead, to end each show with a deeper understanding of theatre and of how and why we do the things we do. My hope is to make the YAP experience that opportunity for inclusion and growth.

B: What do you like about directing?

J: I think the theatre is a safe place where we can take a good hard look at ourselves and each other and the world — in the dark, under the pretense of watching a story played out by actors.  I love hosting that safe place for the actors and the audience with writers and designers.

B: What is the direction you want to take Zanna?

J: The creative team and I are reinterpreting the aesthetic of Heartsville High — [where everyone is gay and students, consequently, feel the pressure to remain in the closet if they are straight] — we’ve moved away from the usual pink and rainbows towards defining the word “gay” in our production as the freedom to be yourself, somewhat through fashion.  There’s no pressure to wear what other people are wearing — the only trend is to express yourself and your personality through your clothes as much as possible. Similarly, Heartsville High isn’t a place that’s dreaded by out or closeted kids who are gay, who, as in many actual high schools across America are still getting thrown into lockers and dumpsters, or worse. Instead, it’s a fun, warm, accepting (until a certain point in the show, anyway) home where school pride goes into chess tournaments and fall musicals instead of football. Of course, Heartsville isn’t without its problems…but we’re all having a great time collaborating on a place where creativity and thoughtfulness are applauded rather than mocked or ignored.

B: What inspired you to do Zanna?

J: The vast majority of roles with characters who are gay in theatre and especially musical theatre are often “token” gay roles — the gay best friend, the gay uncle, the gay chorus, etc. Rarely are the leads homosexual, especially the romantic leads, and especially in a high school setting.  The opportunity to stage a school full of characters who are gay who are all happy, with positive outlooks and who are “normal,” – this and the chance to discuss bullying and traditional gender roles and responses to different sexual orientations with bright, engaged, talented performers up to 15 years younger than myself was irresistible.  And the conversations that are happening in our rehearsal room are some of the best sociopolitical conversations I’ve had anywhere, in any room.

B: What are you most excited for?

J: For you to come see it and to tell us what you think!

Jess McLeod
Director of Zanna, Don’t!

Dance Break!

Check out what Zanna, Don’t! choreographer and TMTC Associate Artist Zach Zube has to say!

Becky: How did you get connected to TMTC and the Young Artists’ Program?

Zach: I have been involved with TMTC for many productions over the last 4 years as a performer, assistant, and choreographer. I previously worked with YAP in 2010 for the original musical HappyFoods as Associate Director/Choreographer.

B: What do you like about choreographing and how did you get started?

Z: The script gives us our lines, the score the music, but the choreography doesn’t come from anywhere already written. That is something I have the opportunity to create myself–which is really thrilling! I love storytelling through physicality. I began choreographing in college, both in concert dance and musical theatre, and I found that path to be most intriguing and fulfilling.

B: Stylistically, what is the dancing like in Zanna?

Z: My buzz words are fun, authentic, bizarre, slick, and sharp. So far, we have everything from line dancing to Michael Jackson as points of inspiration. The show is eclectic, and the choreography will reflect that.

B: What are you most excited for?

Z: I am most excited to see the transformation of the performers. The journey from point A to point Z is a privilege to witness. It thrills me when an actor “gets it” for the first time–and this cast is very promising. Many of them are already “getting it,” so imagine what it will be like in 3 weeks!

Zach Zube
Choreographer for Zanna, Don’t!

Jazz, Pop, and Glitter. What do you get?

The music!  Musical Director, Kory Danielson, took the time to answer a few questions about the music we will be hearing in Zanna, Don’t!

Becky: I know you musically directed the Young Artists’ Program (YAP) show last year.  What made you come back?

Kory: The YAP was such an exciting experience last year – taking new musical theatre pieces and tailoring them around young performers who were hungry for knowledge and incredibly talented was very rewarding. When I was told that the YAP would be doing a full musical this year, I knew that I had to be involved again! I think the amount of material that is being covered this year was what made me thrilled about coming back and working with these artists again.

B: How did you discover musical directing?

K: I was majoring in Musical Theatre Performance at college when I heard that a student-directed production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was looking for a music director. I had been playing the piano since I was young, and thought it would be a fun experience. During that process, I really found a new passion for musical theatre – I still love performing, but music directing allowed me to bring my creative energy to shows in a completely new way.

B: What is the music like for Zanna? What is the style of the music?

K: Zanna, Don’t! is very unique in that it is a sort of glitter-pop musical with very difficult recitative sections. It’s an eclectic mix of jazzy, poppy, punky musical theatre, and yet I think what ties it all together is the almost patter-like sections throughout the show. It’s all very energetic.

B: What are you most excited for?

K: I’m most excited to see where these performers take this music. We have already had a week of rehearsals and have a lot of the music learned – now they have a chance to take what we have worked on and really make it their own. The songs really allow for play and exploration.

Welcome to Heartsville High!

Enter Zanna, a magical, musical fairy who, with a wave of his wand, brings true love to one and all!

My name is Becky Keeshin and I will be reporting and blogging on the happenings of The Music Theatre Company’s 2012 Young Artists’ Program production of Zanna, Don’t!  This is a program of young artists ages 14-22 working in a professional atmosphere.  The young artists were admitted by audition and rehearse Monday through Friday from 4pm-8pm under the direction of Jess McLeod, with music direction by Kory Danielson, and choreography by Zach Zube.

For the next six weeks they will sing, act, and dance their way into the magical world of adolescents living in a seemingly upside down world.  This blog is meant to keep you all updated with interviews, pictures, and videos of the creative staff and actors!

Zanna, Don’t! opens on Thursday, July 12 at 7:30pm and runs through Sunday, July 22 at 2:00pm with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.

Tickets can be ordered online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/914720 or by calling the Box Office at (847) 579-4900, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 8:00pm.

Becky Keeshin