By LEISA GREENE-NELSON
If you watch the popular TV show Glee, the Missoula Community Theatre (more commonly known as the MCT) is shaking, singing, and moving just like the TV series.
The difference is, students and instructor don’t go from writing a song they want to sing on their white board, taking a commercial break, and then going straight to performing a musical number that would make Liza Minnelli jealous.
No, this is the real world. Next Step Prep teaches the hard work that happens at the commercial break with armpit sweat stains, grimacing, and repeating one through four measures of song and dance over and over and over again. This way, students will one day land that perfect performance and realize what it takes to do it.
The purpose of Next Step Prep is to give high school students and opportunity to study music, theater, and dance together where in their own communities they may only have an opportunity of studying one discipline.
During their Next Step Prep schooling the students are able to earn high school credit. This program is not only for grades 9 through 12 but for high school graduates seeking master class training.
Only three other summer arts programs exist in the United States: Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Idyllwild Arts in California, and Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts. The Project Development Director of Next Step Prep, Greg Boris, is hoping Next Step Prep will become more like these private art schools in the near future.
Greg says, “MCT’s hope is to have a solid, successful, full year-long performing arts high school. It’s going to take some time, a full staff of instructors, and some serious money, but hopefully we will get there.”
For now, students stay in a dorm at the University of Montana, and the housing and tuition is not cheap. For the six-week program, students need to come up with $5000 for schooling and housing. Many students come to Next Step Prep on scholarship, which is generously donated by community members and long-time wonderful supporters of MCT.
Next Step Prep’s line-up of instructors for this year include local tap dance instructor, Linda Murphy, who is training students, along with publicists and talent agents, David and Sandy Mirisch.
The guest instructors this year include 1994 Tony Award nominee, Susan Egan, who was nominated for her performance as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Georgia Stitt, a composer-lyricist for her original musicals, Sing Me a Happy Song, Big Red Sun, The Water, and Mosaic.
On Tuesday, July 10, MCT’s Next Step Prep presents Susan Egan and Georgia Stitt in a performance called “Glamour and Goop”. This concert is performed in NYC and L.A. about twice a year and to have these two artists here in Missoula to perform it is a special event.
“Glamour and Goop” is a fundraiser to benefit MCT’s Next Step Prep Scholarship Fund. The doors open at 6:30 and you can join the artists for light hors d’oeuvres and drinks with entertainment by Next Step Prep students. The “Glamour and Goop” show starts at 7:30.
Gala Tickets are $50 including the reception and the show, “Glamour and Goop” (show only) is $20. For tickets, please call (406) 728-7529 or go to the MCT website.
You may check out Georgia Stitt and Susan Egan’s “Glamour and Goop” website.
Read more of Leisa’s stories about the Missoula music scene.
Call her a big city girl at heart, finding and satiating that appetite in the city of Missoula. Born in Butte and raised in Missoula, she is fascinated by people and looks for interesting characters to write about. Everyone has a story to tell, or not, but the people and places in Missoula are unique.
Moving fast in life (for that big city feel) Leisa’s passions bounce around music, theater, food, art, family, and friends that’s supported by an IV line of dark roasted coffee. Single and a recent graduate from the University of Montana with a BA in Creative Writing, she learned what it was like to be a co-ed in her 40s.
She currently works as an Office Manager at Inter-State Studio and Publishing, working on school photos and yearbooks. Her personal life and nightlife is where she discovers and creates creative non-fiction stories. She has four supportive, loving children: Dustin, Michael, Jalynn, and Mark (adopted through marriage to Dustin) who are all artistically creative in writing, theater, dance, and singing. Leisa likes to think she moves faster than they do.