by Casey Pigg
Quincy University students partnered with John Wood Community College students and the Muddy River Opera Company for seven weeks to perform the children’s opera, Jack and the Beanstalk, for local grade schools around the area this past March. The cast consisted of five QU students and two from John Wood who worked with their directors to create a lively show for children to enjoy.
“I always think of our children’s opera as a giant puzzle. You start with all these little pieces. After seven weeks of rehearsal, set design and construction, and costumes we put together a fantastic show for area elementary students,” Amy Stollberg, co-music director, said. “We truly have great talent at both schools!”
The idea to come up with a blended cast, or students from both schools forming one cast, came from the desire to include talented performers from both schools be able to work together to create the best cast possible. This blending of the casts helped to insure that those who were involved were passionate about what they were doing.
“It was really wonderful. Everyone was prepared and really serious about what they were doing and interested in what they were doing,” Connie Phillips, stage director of the production, said.
Phillips was also very excited with the talent that she found in the QU and John Wood students.
“It worked really well,” Phillips said. “We took the best singers from both groups and combined them.”
Many of these students involved were very invested in what they were doing for a variety of reasons. One student in particular, Rachel Reinbeck, has been involved with all three children’s operas performed in the past three years, says that her main reason for being involved is the enjoyment that the students get out of each show.
“It’s difficult while you are doing it. It can be challenging and hard and some days you may not want to go to rehearsal. But, it’s all worth it seeing the kids’ faces. Seeing them get into it. Seeing them participate. It’s just worth it once it’s all over,” Reinbeck said.
While Jack and the Beanstalk was Muddy River Opera Company’s third children’s opera performed, Phillips says that it will definitely not be their last.
“This is a great program. It is very expansive for the performers who are college age. It’s also expansive for the children in the schools because many of them have never come in contact with a live performance. It’s really worth the time to do and it is very rewarding,” Phillips said. “It’s really just to be those inspirational singers who come out to the schools and really help these kids get excited about music, dance and acting.”