The Evergreen Chorale presented a production of Billy Elliot The Musical (BETM) at their Center Stage theater in Evergreen, Colorado, from February 24 to March 12, 2017. One additional show was scheduled for Friday, March 17, 2017 at the Colorado Ballet Black Box Theater at 7:30pm.
The Evergreen Chorale (EC) is a vibrant performing arts organization and community partner that produces choral concerts and musical theater shows, as well as providing a fully equipped venue for other performing arts organizations.
Formed in 1972 as a small community singing group, the EC has evolved into a diverse body of over 100 talented and committed performers over the past 44 years and is now considered one of the premier community choirs in the state, as well as a producer of high-quality musicals noteworthy for the professional caliber of its performers.
Center Stage was first built in 1924 as part of the Episcopal Conference Center in Evergreen. The Evergreen Chorale began using the building as its primary performance venue in 1972 and purchased the building from the Episcopal Church in 1991, naming it Center Stage. The Evergreen Chorale still owns the theater, which is also the home of the Evergreen Players and the Evergreen Children’s Chorale.
BETM at the Evergreen Chorale
The Artistic Director for Evergreen Chorale’s musical theater productions is Christine Gaudreau. She is also BETM’s Musical Director. Christine is responsible for both choosing BETM as a show to be done at Evergreen and for putting together the creative staff to bring it to life at Center Stage.
When asked why she chose this musical, Christine replied, “Elton John’s score is very exciting, and the show shares such an important message about tolerance and the value of being your authentic self.”
Speaking about the many challenges of producing this huge show, Christine elaborated in a recent interview about one of the biggest: the number and complexity of the dance numbers in the show. So Christine decided to put together a team of three choreographers: 1) Kevin Gael Thomas of the Colorado Ballet Theater (for ballet), 2) Sky Cash, a local director/choreographer in the Fort Collins area (for the tap and ensemble pieces) and 3) Christina Noel from the Arvada Center Dance Company. The nine young dancers who make up the Ballet Girl ensemble of the show study with Christina at Arvada and were hand picked by her from among all the students at her dance facility to play these roles based on their ability to sing and act, in addition to their dance skills. In collaboration with Sky Cash, Christina has continued to work with these girls on the specific choreography needed for their roles in BETM.
The Director of Evergreen’s BETM production is Pat Payne, who is directing his third musical for the Chorale.
But no list of the challenges of producing BETM can be complete without mentioning what is clearly the largest challenge any theatre group encounters when choosing to do this musical — finding the right actor to play Billy. As Christine states, “We needed a young boy who is a triple threat — he’s got to be a strong singer, as well as a highly talented dancer with experience in both ballet and tap, and he’s got to be able to act.”
The boy who was the Evergreen Chorale’s Billy found out about the auditions for the show online. Then, after a video audition and much back and forth by phone and email, Maurice Kimball IV from Vancouver was chosen, and he and his family relocated to Evergreen for rehearsals and for the length of the show’s run there.
In the days before the show opened at Center Stage, Evergreen Chorale produced this video to promote the show. It includes some excellent production footage of Maurice as Billy and the entire cast of the show:
Credit: Video by Evergreen Chorale
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Evergreen Chorale cast, just click on the Cast Information button.