Youth will present home-grown musical

Youth will present home-grown musical
The Rev. Steve Miller of Vermillion has long dreamed of sitting down, with guitar and imagination in full gear, and writing a musical.

That dream has become reality. Steve's musical, You Look Marvelous, took months of work, but is now ready to hit the stage.

It will premiere here in Vermillion, and will be presented by a group of actors and actresses Steve had in mind when he first began the process of writing the musical's storyline, tunes and song lyrics: the community's youth.

Directing the musical will be two actor/directors: Erin Conlon of Vermillion, and Chris Manns, who traveled to South Dakota by bus from his home in Virginia.

Erin and Chris will receive guidance from Dan and Deb Workman of Vermillion, who, since 1999, have operated the Children's Theatre Company of South Dakota.

They will begin workshops with up to 50 young people in Vermillion, ages kindergarten through 12th grade, on Monday, Sept 24.

Rehearsals will be held after school all of next week. The kids will stage the musical before a public audience 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in the Colton Recital Hall in the Warren M. Lee Fine Arts Building on the USD campus.

From here, the Deb and Dan plan to take Steve's musical to schools and community theatres across the state "By the time the year is all done, we'll probably go to between 35 and 40 places across the state," Dan said.

One of the reasons the Workmans' group was formed, Deb said, was in response to a trend in the late 90s.

"Different children's theatre companies were taking state money out of the state," she said. "Local schools and organizations would hire them, and any art council money was then going outside, and so the idea was that we could do that here.

The Workmans will provide training to the acting/directing team of Erin and Chris.

"We're kind of directors to them, and then they're directors to all of the kids involved," Deb said.

One of the main goals of the Workman's Children's Theatre Company is to tap into the artistic talents of people residing in South Dakota.

"We really wanted to try to use artists from around here, and this is just a fine example of that," Deb said. "Just by chance, Steve Miller was helping with a residency of ours out at the high school, and he said, 'I would love to try to write a show for you.' And it's just exciting to see the local talent come together."

Steve's musical is an adaptation of the children's tale, The Emperor's New Clothes.

Miller estimates it took him nearly a year to write the tunes, lyrics and script of the musical. He is thankful for the ever-helpful influence of the Workmans during that time.

"They have been my partners, encouraging me," he said. "It's unusual in that you have two actors who are professionals, and then you're also writing for 50 kids besides them."

"Personally I believe that theatre is a wonderful art form," Dan said. "Kids participating in our theatre events – not all of them are going to continue on to study theatre – but what hoping they get out of it is confidence, a sense of community, they learn to be creative and how to solve problems.

"I think in the long run, young people who participate in this, but choose later in life not become directly involved in theatre, will become patrons with a greater understanding of theatre in general."

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