Last week, the Summer @ the Conservatory’s Conservatory Presents and Conservatory Intensive programs got off to a strong start. Students learned about a wide range of theater principles, including voice anatomy and character studies, in addition to casting the shows that each group will perform. Industry professionals also appear during the program each week to give workshops on various aspects of the arts. Last week, actor, producer and film critic Dennis Willis spoke on producing music and editing for television, and this week students will work with cartoon voice-over casting director Portia Scott and participate in an improv workshop with Justin Smith, an experienced improv performer who has worked with the Upright Citizens Brigade and Chicago’s legendary Second City and is also co-founder of the Chicago-based Canopy Theatre Collective.
The staff behind this year’s Summer @ the Conservatory program went to great lengths to make sure students would be able to explore their love of theater in a safe environment. Head nurse Debra Nott, artistic director Laura Lang-Ree, summer director Cindi Gonsalves and assistant head of school for student affairs Greg Lawson collaborated to prepare the courses for strict adherence to county guidelines. Students have been working in casts of no more than 12 and practice social distancing during rehearsals. “Although masks hide their smiles, these students were thrilled to be together again and are having a great time practicing their craft, even in these most unique circumstances,” said Lang-Ree.