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Kids Around the Bay

August 10, 2011

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Entertainment on Tap: Billy Elliot

There are only two more weeks to catch the newest Broadway show sensation, Billy Elliot at the Orpheum Theater, which ends on Aug. 21. Three hours of high-energy dance keeps kids 8 years and older (age recommended by producer SHN) engaged, albeit against the sometimes somber backdrop of the English coal miner’s strike in the early 1980s, and a family’s struggle to overcome hardship and accept each other for who they are. The pace of the show moves along wonderfully until the second act, which slows only a bit, as the hour gets late. Best to take younger kids to a matinee. For as memorable as the dancing was, the tunes by Elton John were not. You’d be hard-pressed to remember a melody the next day, although the orchestration and music was lively and underscored the choreography brilliantly. “I just loved the dancing. It was so fantastic and it inspired me to chase a career on Broadway,” said patron, 13-year-old Marika Stuurman.

As part of the company’s outreach to local musical theater camps, Stuurman attended a master class given by cast member Karen Hyland in July. “She taught us one of the dances from the show. We heard about the Broadway audition process and she advised us to take a lot of auditions in all three areas; singing, dancing, and acting.” Male cast members who played the lead role of Billy also shared their talent and guidance in a separate class for members of SFArtsED Project. With such a demanding touring schedule and role, it was necessary to cast five young boys as Billy, alternating shows. Stuurman and her family just happened to catch J.P. Viernes of Half Moon Bay. The local hero was superb, by all accounts. For more information see the Web site.

VoiceBox: A Pandora's Box For Young Singers

Host Chloe Veltman serves up topics surrounding vocal music on her radio program, VoiceBox. Don’t miss the Aug. 19 program, “Forever Young: A Guide to long-term vocal health for singing children.” According to its description: “Children love to sing. But sometimes they can fall into bad habits if they don’t have parents or teachers to help them figure out how to look after their voices from a young age. Voice experts and American Speech Language Hearing Association members Sarah Schneider and Katherine Verdolini Abbott join Veltman for a look at how kids’ voices work and what keeps them safe when they sing.”

An interview with Kevin Fox of the Pacific Boys Choir on training young boy’s voices, was previously aired on Aug. 5. You can hear that on their Web site. VoiceBox airs on Friday evenings from 10-11pm PST at KALW 91.7 FM, or listen online at www.kalw.org.

SingersMarin Offers Choir Scholarships

Does your daughter love to sing? SingersMarin is now offering a limited number of new member, full tuition scholarships to young women singers who show the promise of great talent and demonstrate some financial hardship. The scholarships are for their advanced choirs, Celestial Voices and les étoiles, for girls between the ages of 10 to 15. Jan Pedersen Schiff founded the organization in 1987 with the aim of fostering community music and music education at the highest level. It now includes a number of choruses for boys, mixed voices, adults, as well as those for young women. Celestial Voices and les étoiles have performed in Berlin and Vienna at the International Schubert Festival; Graz, Austria in the World Choir Games (where they received a silver medal); and in New York’s Carnegie Hall, to name a few of their exciting adventures. This fall they will hone musical skills while preparing for their annual holiday concert on Dec. 18.

Auditions are held during the month of August by appointment. The required audition piece is The Star Spangled Banner, plus a song of the singer’s choice. Contact the SingersMarin office for more information or to schedule an audition. 415-383-3712; email: [email protected]

Lisa Petrie is a writer and specialist in marketing and public relations for arts and education organizations. She earned a DMA in flute performance from SUNY, Stony Brook, and is the mother of two musical kids. Lisa was the Content Manager for the Kids and Families section of San Francisco Classical Voice during 2011.