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Six, seven, eight… Area high school students get a taste of a Broadway dance rehearsal

High School Theater

Center Stage High School Musical Program of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)

Want to get to Broadway?

It’s something like this…

“Contract, one…”

“Picture, two…”

“Prepare, three.”

Those are tips for postures in a dance sequence.

Now, you learn a bunch more and put them together.

And then you practice, practice, practice.

Thursday afternoon, 36 students from 16 high schools in the region learned steps from a veteran Broadway performer, practiced and then put everything together to music.

Adam Roberts of the touring “Miss Saigon” taught the students a complex series of actions that are part of the splashy “American Dream” scene in the show playing at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Warming up. (Warren Gerds)

“Again” he said during instructions along the way, “everything is easy, it’s just very specific.”

After 10 minutes of warmups, Adam Roberts built the sequence with the students step by step… step by step by step… and so on… over the next half hour.

More warming up. (Warren Gerds)

The final result was 15 seconds out of the 2½-hour production.

“That’s what it takes!” said Gerald Henley, director of theater operations at the center, laughing about what the students learned in this dose of the real deal.

Jordan Ketter got the picture. In so many words, Broadway is not on his radar, he said afterward.

“It was insane,” the Green Bay Preble student said of the pace Adam Roberts set. “You blink, and you miss half the dance.”

Indeed, Adam Roberts tossed the students into the deep end of the pool. The sequence is from the biggest production number in “Miss Saigon” that’s chock full of speed and glitz.

Alexis Bakken said she was not used to doing that intensive a dance, but she loved seeing a professional in action.

Also, the Little Chute High School student said she liked Adam Roberts’ advice, notably about confidence “and knowing who you are and bringing that to an audition.”

Gathering in Kimberly-Clark Theater. (Warren Gerds)

During his time with the students, Adam Roberts told of his total immersion in high-level performance. His life is a trail of performance, performance, performance. The route includes musical parents, performing young in variety shows, college in North Carolina, New York City as a wannabe, building to a Broadway debut in “Spider-Man,” an Equity card (union), an agent and spreading out in songwriting. With “Miss Saigon,” he is a member of the soldier ensemble and understudy to the key role of Chris, which he once he had to leap into in the middle of a performance.

“Make sure you really love it,” Adam Roberts told the students, “because the business is hateful. It is dog eat dog.”

Other advice: “Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons… Make sure you are really passionate about it… Know you’re unique in your own way… Be strong and secure in who you are… Immerse yourself in all kinds of things – learn, grow, mature.”

This is from a person who has been there, done that.

That is one of the points of the series of workshops that are offered as part of the Center Stage Program – to expose students to real-world experience.

Twenty-three high schools are involved this season in the project of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center that is part of a national program.

Logo in hallway of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. (Warren Gerds)

Adam Roberts said afterward it was rewarding to teach the students and pass on information from a person working in the business.

Results were immediate. The students had come – not knowing what to expect – and suddenly they were learning hard moves new to them… and clueing in as they created their 15 seconds of SHA-ZAM.

Adam Roberts and the workshop participants. (Warren Gerds)

In the midst of putting the students through their paces and building, building, building, Adam Roberts glanced at Trisha Witt of the center staff and flashed a quick expression that said, “Hey – all right!”

The students did, indeed, do the deed.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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