New Trier Cho-Op Musical features Township Children’s Choir
Twenty-seven New Trier Township students ranging from fourth to seventh grade will get a chance to join their older peers on the big stage for New Trier High School’s Choir Opera musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, March 8-11 at 7 p.m. in the Winnetka Campus Gaffney Auditorium.
“We are thankful for our colleagues at the schools who are running amazing general music and choral programs at the elementary and junior high levels,” New Trier Director of Choirs Amy Branahl said. “We are honored to have the administrative support and parental support from McKenzie Elementary, Avoca West Elementary, Crow Island Elementary, Glencoe West School, Romona Elementary School, Highcrest Middle School, Sunset Ridge School, The Skokie School, Glencoe Central School, Joseph Sears School, and Wilmette Junior High.”
Township students auditioned for the Children’s Choir in early January by singing an excerpt of the songs “Close Every Door” or “Megamix.” The New Trier Choral program hosted several workshops, online tutorials, and learning videos to help students prepare for their five-minute audition slots. Students have met twice a week since the Children’s Chorus was cast and will rehearse more often as the show approaches.
“Working with the Children’s Choir has been such a joy,” Branahl said. “My favorite thing about working with them is seeing their faces light up when they learn new music, when they are able to sing in two parts and having pride in learning their own parts, and being able to inspire students at such a young age to participate and enjoy musical theatre.”
Since 1980, if the Choir Opera musical called for a child in the show, New Trier High School has hosted auditions to cast Township children, often expanding the children’s parts to be inclusive and get students interested in the performing arts, Branahl said. Some examples of New Trier shows featuring younger students in the past include: Mame (1985), Pippin (1991), The Music Man (1992), Oklahoma! (1999), The King and I (2000), Fiddler on the Roof (2001), Les Miserables (2003), The Music Man (2005), Pippin (2006), Les Miserables (2011), Beauty & The Beast (2012), and now Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2023). Also, in 2008, the Choral Program featured a 60-voice Children’s Choir when they performed Carmina Burana.
“Just watching them be excited about the new experiences that they are having with our production, it reminds me of how I felt when I started musical theatre,” New Trier Choir Opera student Sadie Block said.
“We want to engage with our sender schools and want to share our knowledge with the Children’s Choir to help them grow,” Choir Opera student Anna Howie said. “We think it is important to see what performing arts are like at the high school level, and this is an opportunity for them to learn from their older peers.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat reimagines the Biblical story of Joseph, his family, and the coat of many colors entirely through song. The Children’s Choir will be featured on six songs in the production, and the show also features two casts of students: Cast A performs Wednesday and Friday (March 8 and 10), and Cast B Performs Thursday and Saturday (March 9 and 11). Cast and crew lists can be found here.
“Everyone is committed to an environment where you can be passionate about what they are creating,” Choir Opera student Asher Alcantara said. “Performing with Choir Opera helps the students practice the level of professionalism required to put together a full production main stage show.”
“We are excited to welcome some of the younger students in our Township to our production and look forward to working with them,” the show’s Music Director Nathan Landes said. “We hope to inspire young singers to continue on and join our choir and theatre programs at New Trier and beyond.”