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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'A Magical Night with Disney' and the Summer Elk Players

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

The Summer Elk Players are ready once again to entertain the socks off of area families with this year's production, "A Magical Night With Disney-A Music Revue."

Terry Mayer/The Week
Margaret Koss practices a song for the Summer Elk Players production this weekend.
This time around, the Summer Elk Players, under the direction of Jeff Kleist, have put together a wonderful show filled with everyone's favorite Disney songs from some of their most popular movies.

"It's all of the songs everyone loves," Kleist says.

They are "The Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas; "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King; "Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride" from Lilo and Stitch; "Reflection" from Mulan; "Little Mermaid Melody," a compilation of four songs from The Little Mermaid; and three songs from High School Musical, "That's How You Know," "Breaking Free" and "We're All in this Together."

This high-energy show has no dialogue, so the 50 students making up this summer's Summer Elk Players cover a lot of ground throughout the show.

There are plenty of duets and solos allowing individual actors and actresses a time to shine while remaining an important part of the entire ensemble.

"It's nice that some more of the kids have the chance to shine," said Chris Ghilani, music director.

As the performers rehearse, the support they give each other is evident and something that gives Kleist's show an edge, no doubt.

Bags, books and bottles of water are strewn across the front of the stage. While Amber Wuttke, choreographer, works with one small group, other groups are independently practicing steps or discussing numbers. Their focus doesn't wane or stray from what's at hand.

Then it's time for a run-through.

"OK, let's go with The Lion King," Kleist calls out. Within 30 seconds everyone is in place and ready to go.

Just as the number begins, the young actress at center stage glances nervously at those who aren't in the number sitting in the audience.

"Make it your song," a supporter encourages. "You can do it."

She nods from the stage and begins her solo dance.

Considering they've had just eight days of rehearsal, they're incredibly in sync. A few missteps here and there are recovered quickly while the directors stand back and discuss parts that need more work or changes.

"Energy!" Kleist yells. "Energy! You need to have fun."

The kids react immediately with whoops and hollers and the energy elevation is palpable. Within seconds, they're off again, now with much more energy and clearly have a blast.

"This show is really a challenge," Wuttke says. "But I must say that I'm really proud of them and how they're polishing up these big numbers."

Wuttke is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in drama at UW-Stevens Point and has choreographed this entire show herself.

"A big challenge for this year's cast is that they have to do all of their acting through singing and dancing because there is no dialogue.

"And because they're Disney songs, almost everyone knows the words and audiences are encouraged to sing along."

"A Magical Night With Disney-A Music Revue" runs July 25-26 at 7 p.m. at the Elkhorn Area High School. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to finance next year's show.



Sophomores: Rebecca Krueger (six years), Sam Keller (three years) and Bailey Mahon (four years.)

Freshman: Chelsea Briere, Emily Clement, Hannah Hoyt, Rebecca Jensen, Laurana Johnson, Hayden Kyle, Megan Lockwood, Jessica McGuire, Shauna McIntire, Kaitlyn Russel and Connor Selvey

Eighth Graders: Linnea Baas, Danielle Braun, Brianna Brueggemann, Alexis Burns, Rebecca Haase, Caleb Holte, Tiffany Kiepert, Margaret Koss, Corinne Maddix, Ruth McLeod, Peter Meylink, Kenna Miller, Ryan Neumann, Tanner Norton, Shane Pogorzelski, Adam Prince, Eva Schmidt, Nichole Svita and April Williams

Seventh graders: Michael Bailey, Anna Berry, Greg Christian, Jennifer French, Anne Gahart, Mackenzie Krauklis, Sally Lesniak, Jessica Nehs, Gage O'Laughlin, Monserrat Padilla, Enrique Quijan, Bryce Rambinand Jacob Sawyers


Student Directors: Amber Billings, Stephen Brellenthin, Nathan Russell, Brady Norton and Isabella Virrueta

Painting crew: Anna Clement and the Clement family

Director: Jeff Kleist

Music Director: Chris Ghilani

Choreographer: Amber Wuttke

Set Construction: Tom Kleist



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