Spotlight on the Alliance TheatreBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 4th, 2009 • Category: Interviews
Mountain View High School, Centreville, VA
$10/$8 Seniors and Students
Playing through March 22nd
(This interview is also available as an MP3 file.)
Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio. Today I am talking with Joe Philipoom, who is a player/coach with the Alliance Theatre’s upcoming production of Cabaret II: The Cabaret Strikes Back. Thank you for talking with me today, Joe.
Joe: Thank you.
Mike: So tell me a little bit about the Alliance Theatre.
Joe: The Alliance Theatre is a group that was started about seven or eight years ago by Elaine Wilson and Pat Colman. Originally they started off doing a big Summer show which involved a lot of kids, and it was an opportunity to reach out to the community. The Summer show that they typically do in the late July or early August time frame. It has seasoned community theatre performers as well as kids ranging in age from third grade all the way up through high school level. It’s an opportunity for those kids to do a workshop during the Summer and also take part in a big musical production. Some of the shows they have done in the past include the Wizard of Oz, Cats, last Summer we did Beauty and The Beast. This Summer we are scheduled to do Willy Wonka. Last year’s cast for Beauty and the Beast was pretty sizable, about 90 performers with mostly children. About 60 children and 30 teenagers and adults. Within the past couple years Alliance has become a little more adventurous and started a season round slate of shows which started last year and will continue this year.
Mike: I’m looking at your website and I see that you just did a production of Love Letters and you just closed Plaza Suite.
Joe: That’s correct. Plaza Suite ran the first two weekends in February. We perform most of our off season, and for us off season is on season for everybody else, at Mountain View High School, which is a small Fairfax County high school. They do not really utilize their stage so Alliance has moved in there as kind of the resident community theater group.
Mike: So are a lot of the people involved part of the school or students at the school?
Joe: Actually no. They really do not have a theater program at Mountain View. Mountain View is an alternative high school and they focus mostly on the basics of education; the math and the science so there is really is not a theater class and most of the kids there probably would not be interested in any kind of theater. Since the theater is dark most of the year, we can utilize it and the shows that are done during the year are mostly adults and high school students. It’s not really for the kids. The kids are the focus in the Summertime.
Mike: What age are the kids over the Summer?
Joe: Summer the kids range in age from I’ve seen them as young as five years old up through rising freshmen in high school. Sophomores and above are considered part of the adult group.
Mike: A lot of the programs that we have seen that focus on kids over the Summer you have to pay a fee for your child to be in the show. Do people have to pay a fee to be in th shows over the Summer?
Joe: The kids to have to pay, I believe it’s around $300, but as part of that they receive some workshop training. It’s not just being part of the production it’s also getting their feet wet and getting to work with maybe not professional actors, but performer who have some seasoning. They get classes on makeup and stage movement so it’s more than just being a part of the production. There is a learning process associated with it.
Mike: Ok great. Have you done casting yet for Willy Wonka?
Joe: Auditions , I believe are the third week in April. I want to say the 21st and 22nd. Anyone who is interested the audition page is posted on the Alliance Theatre website which is at www.thealliancetheatre.org. Anyone who is interested can get the audition dates as well as any forms that they would need to fill out. Especially if they are children who are interested there are parent permission forms and things like that. Everything is available on the website if anyone is interested.
Mike: The upcoming production that the Alliance Theatre is doing is called Cabaret II: The Cabaret Strikes Back. Tell me about that production.
Joe: We formed a group last year (last Spring) called Capital Cabaret. Basically this year it is a group of nine performers. It’s basically a song and dance show, a musical review almost. What we try to do is we cherrypick two or three, actually four or five musicals that we are going to feature two to three songs from and then a couple of other pieces as people are interested in performing those songs. We have a show that is about an hour and a half where we will feature songs this year from Mamma Mia, Rent, Man of La Mancha, Forever Plaid, and Wicked are the big shows that we are featuring music from.
When I say featuring, we will do two, three, maybe four pieces from those shows and then we’ll have some other pieces as well that we do. Probably a third of the show are group numbers where all nine of us are out there. When I say nine, we have a piano player Charley Manchip, but he also sings with the group as well as being our musical director. Then the eight of us will be out there singing together We do a lot of duets, a lot of trios and some features where with the Wicked songs and the Mamma Mia songs for example the women in the group will do those numbers. The Man of La Mancha and Guys and Dolls will be done by the men. We do some quartets with the ladies, we do some quartets with the men and then we do some duets; guy girl, girl girl that type of thing.
Mike: So what is your involvement with this?
Joe: I am the director and one of the founding members. I took over direction after last season to give the group a little more structure. We were a little freeform last year and things kind of did not necessarily click the way we would have liked so I decided that I would take over at least structuring the group a little bit more. Putting together a rehearsal schedule and taking the ideas from the group, but ultimately making the final decisions on what songs were to be included in this year’s show. I also perform with the group. My first love is actually to do the song and dance type stuff, but we needed a leader and ultimately it fell to me.
Mike: What are the dates for the show?
Joe: The dates are Friday, March 6, Saturday March 7 at 7:30 PM, Sunday March 8 at 2 PM. We will take a week off so that we do not interfere with the Children of Eden production at Centreville Presbyterian church the following weekend. We will be back on Friday and Saturday March 20 and 21 at 7:30 PM. March 22nd is our closing with a 2PM matinee.
Mike: That is at the high school agin.
Joe: That is correct. That is at Mountain View High School. All of the information is posted on the website.
Mike: How much are tickets?
Joe: Tickets are $10 for adults. $8 for children 12 and under and seniors 60 and over.
Mike: And if you don’t know these shows like Wicked or Mamma Mia, if you don’t know these shows, will you still enjoy it?
Joe: I believe you will. I believe this show offers something for everybody. The songs that we are doing we have picked musicals from the 50’s, 60’s, and also current day with Wicked and Rent. I believe that if you like theater, if you like Broadway. Even if you don’t, we do songs that are pop culture, too. We are actually doing a Motown tribute this year and including a Manhattan Transfer medley which is nice. The harmonies are very tight. So if you like jazz, if you like Broadway, if you like pop music, I believe that there is something in it for just about everybody.
Mike: Well that sounds exciting. I wish we were able to attend, but we are all booked up. But we will definitely keep watching your website for future productions.
Joe: Thank you very much and also, Mike, just to add, this group was developed with the idea that we would be able to take this show and travel with it. To corporate events, nursing homes, community centers and that type of thing. Since we are small and we travel light, we have not gone down that route yet. We have done a couple fundraisers for some of the local churches, but the intention is that we would actually take this how out on the road and travel and become a source to help fund some of the things that Alliance wants to do. If you miss us in March, hopefully you will see us around the area soon.
Mike: That’s a neat idea. I don’t know if I’ve heard of many other groups doing that.
Joe: Yes it’s pretty unique. Actually Elaine Wilson who is one of the co-founders of Alliance was my high school theater teacher and we had a group similar to what Cabaret is. A couple years ago we decided that we had enough people and place within Alliance that met the requirements that we could put together a pretty tight small group to do just that kind of fundraising activity.
Mike: Well, very good. I do thank you for taking the time to talk with me, I do appreciate it.
Joe: Thank you, Mike. I appreciate your time.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3579.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.