KCUSD offers training to young performers
|Some members of K.C. Showcase at a rehearsal prior to the beginning of school. The group is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the KCUSD Fair in Orange Cove. The Showcase members are, from left, Isabella Elizondo, Magdalena Lopez, Leah Ramirez, Heidi Harris, Sarah Clemmer, Alison Stevens, Jadah Rodriguez and Elizabeth Heinrichs. Doug Hoagland / The Exponent|
By Doug Hoagland
For nearly 20 years Reedley students who shine on stage have found an outlet for their talents in K.C. Showcase. The students include performers-in-the-making such as 12-year-old Christopher Lopez, a student at Grant Middle School.
“I just feel I was born to perform,” Christopher said. “I’ve learned many things, but I’ve got to say the greatest thing is that a real actor is not afraid to be who he really is.”
Along with Reedley High’s marching band, elementary music programs and plays at RHS, K.C. Showcase represents the commitment of Kings Canyon Unified to the performing arts.
The Showcase – sponsored by the school district – is a three-week summer workshop for KCUSD students. They learn an original show that incorporates singing, dancing and acting. Then they present the show at KCUSD’s all-staff meeting prior to the start of school and at the school district’s annual fair, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Orange Cove High School.
Thirty-two students participated this year.
Mark Norwood and the late Carl Campbell started the Showcase in 1994. Campbell was KCUSD superintendent at the time. Norwood was the district’s theater arts coordinator, a position he still holds.
Some Showcase students already have the stage presence of seasoned performers. Others are more reserved, but there is often an inner Justin Timberlake waiting to bust out of them.
“I get to witness miracles,” Norwood said. “Quite often the shyest people have this huge reservoir of talent that will not take ‘no’ for an answer and burst forth. All that student is waiting for is an outlet and some guidance.”
There are other benefits, too.
“Well, for one thing it’s fun,” said 11-year-old Elizabeth Heinrichs, a student at T.L. Reed School. “It’s enjoyable, and it’s get you out of your nervous shell. Also, it helps you learn about theater, and maybe one day I’d like to work in a show at the Opera House.”
Norwood also directs the River City Theatre Company, which performs at the Opera House.
Assisting him with K.C. Showcase are James Tasy (vocal coach and rehearsal pianist), Denise Norwood (choreography), Sarah Wiebe (stage manage and choreography), Marianne McFarlin (special instruction) and Robert Beck (volunteer parent).
Sometimes, the Showcase attracts more than one member of a family. For example, Zach and Sarah Clemmer are a brother-sister combo in this year’s group.
Zach Clemmer, 17, is a senior at Reedley High. Sarah Clemmber, 15, is a sophomore.
He does a funny bit in a bilingual skit that’s part of this year’s Latin-themed show. This is Zach Clemmer’s third year in the Showcase, and he explained the reasons he participates.
“You get to be around people who have the same interest,” he said. “They want to put on a good show and they want to be better actors and better performers. That’s what Mr. Norwood teaches us. And he’s always talking about kindness, and how kindness will rule over talent.”
Norwood explained his thinking: “You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you can’t work with other people, it’s pretty worthless.”
Working with younger students in the Showcase has taught her patience, Sarah Clemmer said. She projects a strong, confident presence on stage, and introduces this year’s show.
Looking into the faces of the audience can leave a performer with questions, Sarah Clemmer said: “Sometimes you think, are people enjoying this? Am I doing what the director taught me? Mostly, though, it’s just the enjoyment of being on the stage and sharing your talent.”
Students in the Showcase this year are: Max Bacon, Elecia Balladarez, Steven Balladarez, Madison Beck, Miranda Beck, Tadeo Bedolla, Megan Brewster, Sarah Clemmer, Zach Clemmer, Sam Damarichi, Ismael Davis, Jocelyn Autuna Diaz, McKai Dougherty, Alexandra Elizondo, Isabella Elizondo and Giselle Espinosa.
Other Showcase students are Celeste Garcia, Alexis Gomez, Heidi Harris, Kent Harris, Elizabeth Heinrichs, Christopher Lopez, Magdalena Lopez, Nicholas Lopez, Kyndall Murray, Julianna McCahill, Vanessa Perez, Leah Ramirez, Gisellie Rodriguez, Jasmine Rodriguez, Jadah Rodriguez and Alison Stevens.
K.C. Showcase charges $50 per student. Families with more children in the program pay $15 for each additional one. Scholarship money is available.
KCUSD schools make registration forms available in May. Forms also are available at the KCUSD office and at Reedley High.
For information, contact Norwood at email@example.com.
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