Tonawanda News

June 16, 2013

In Good Company Productions takes first step toward 2013 musical

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — By the end of July, the young members of In Good Company Productions will be up on the stage at the Niawanda Park bandshell, singing, dancing and otherwise performing in the group’s 2013 musical, “Back to the ‘80s.”

But at the beginning of June, there’s still a long way to get there.

On June 5 at Grove Street Christian Church in Tonawanda, children lined up to belt out (or whisper) a song in front of music director Bethany Rarick, choreographer Anthony Ward and director and IGC president Melissa Tober, who sat at a table strewn with callback CDs, scripts with many scribbled notes and lists of the show’s songs, iconic ‘80s music such as “Kids in America,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Time of My Life,” “Footloose,” “Material Girl” and more.

Tober said that some of those auditioning will receive a callback CD and and instructions to return the next week, when a selection of the young actors will read scripts and sing songs from the actual show.

“You can tell at once who has some experience,” she said. “Some of them hit it out of the park and some who come in are so nervous. Usually nobody cries. Occasionally some of the little ones do ... but they get over it.”

Tober noted how great it is to call up a child who’s worked his or her way up and deliver the news of a leading role — but everyone who auditions, even those who don’t receive callbacks, will have some role in the show. 

“It’s great, year to year, to see them progress,” she said. “We really try to make sure everybody has a little something special to do.”

Ward, a recent NCCC graduate, has worked his way up in a different way, from appearing in a show to taking on the assistant director role, to this year’s choreography stint.

“We’re looking for people you can tell want to be here, and have that talent and charisma,” he said. “Most of the kids you can tell really want to be here, and it’s great to have a place for them to come and get their creative juices flowing.”

As the three waited at the front of the room, auditioning children filed in a handful at a time with their audition numbers. Ranging in age from 6 to 16, the group was led by Annabella Bogart, 10, an IGC veteran who belted out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (and received a callback CD) and concluded with Chessa Bara, 6, of Tonawanda, who sang “Man of La Mancha.”

Chessa said this is her third year taking part in the show.

“I like it,” she said. “Because they always do different shows and they’re really fun.”

Following her own audition, Chessa and her mother Kate Bara watched her little sister Emaline, 4, sing — very quietly — “Call Me Maybe” to audition.

“Last year, she wanted to do it, but she got too nervous ... so I said that was OK. We don’t push them,” Kate Bara said. “But then all summer, when we were going to practice with (Chessa), it was ‘I wish I was in it!’ “

Assisting at the auditions was IGC veteran John Tober, 12, who — while he’s helped out at the family enterprise for years — is planning to be in the show for the first time in 2013. He figures he has an advantage. 

“I always know the songs in the show, because my sisters play them so much they get stuck in my head and I memorize them,” he said. “It’s kind of something to do in the summer. Most people in the summer, they just sit around and watch TV.”

EDITOR'S NOTE… This is the first in a series of stories following In Good Company Productions 2013 musical, "Back to the '80s" from auditions to the final shows. The next installment will run June 30.