VCT to debut original musical about Vermillion Production
communityâ�?�?s 150th anniversary By Patrick Morrison
Yankton Media, Inc. Vermillion's history will unfold on stage this July as the Vermillion Community Theatre debuts its production of "In Every Generation: An Original Musical Photograph." Written and produced entirely by the local community and the VCT, "In Every Generation" will chronicle the history of Vermillion from its earliest days, Head Writer Steve Miller, the musical's head writer, said. "It's basically historical fiction," Miller said. "We use real names, real places and real things that happened, but we fictionalize them. We're trying to create the idea of history and keep it playful and fun." Miller said the production is a "musical photograph" because the story will be told through the photo album of a fictional local family. The production will be narrated through the eyes of the Weavers, a fictional family created by the writing staff. As the photos are explained, the cast will act out the scene in that particular photograph. "You will see actual photographs of Vermillion throughout the show that are blended into the script," Miller said. "Our set designer actually built a screen into the set so when a narrator talks about a photograph, you will see the photograph as it's acted out." Miller added that in some cases, descendants of the characters used in the production are either in the musical or still part of the Vermillion community. "There are actually a few names of families that we are delicately using, but most of the names of individuals we use lived prior to World War II," he said. "This was purposeful so we don't have anyone portrayed on stage that is sitting out in the audience." The historical nature of "In Every Generation" is in no way a coincidence to the celebration of Vermillion's Sesquicentennial this year, Miller said. "A few years ago, we thought, 'Hey, lets do a musical on the history of Vermillion to celebrate the 150th anniversary,"' Miller said. "This will be a nice piece to fit into the celebration." Anthony Burbach, president of the VCT and musical director for "In Every Generation," said the VCT began preparations for the production by recruiting Rachel Foulks to direct the show. "When we pick a show, we like to find a director who is a new face and who can bring a fresh perspective," Burbach said. "We found Rachel in the USD Theater program and she was more than willing to be part of the project." The next challenge was to select the overall theme of the production and form a creative team, Miller said. "Interestingly enough, the writers started with what stories we wanted to tell, and what we ultimately came up with were 10 'photographs,'" Miller said. "We then wrote a song to be paired with each photograph, which was eventually adapted to the cast." Miller also said that creating a new production gives the directors and writers the flexibility to alter script when necessary. "When you are working with community theater, you are not sure who is going to show up at auditions," he said. "The beauty of writing your own production is that you can write to the strengths of the cast. You can say, 'We have these two great high school students, so we are going to write a song just for them.'" Although the added flexibility is a bonus, the main benefit of community theater is working with the community itself, Foulks said. "I think the best thing about this is that it brings everyone in the community together," Foulks said. "Everyone involved feels like that they have a piece of it and that they had a hand in crafting it." "In Every Generation: An Original Musical Photograph" will run from Friday, July 10 to Monday, July 13 at the VHS Performing Arts Center. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Monday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.VermillionCommunityTheatre.org.