As a director, Kenny Shepard always wants more time.
Shepard will direct Civic Theatre’s Young Artists Program’s “Revue!” in two performances at 6 and 8 p.m. June 26 at the Studio Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
“We have just 10 rehearsals to put the show together, so the performers have a lot to carry on their shoulders — learning songs and monologues, blocking, lyrics and then moving the show into the actual performance space,” Shepard said. “Another challenge, which I love, is making sure each artist’s voice is heard and each story is told authentically. All 13 of them answered a long list of questions for me, and I took their experiences about social media, dating, family, friendships, bullying and other topics and wrote a script, often using their words verbatim as monologues.”
Johnna Tavianini is the music director.
“Johnna and I both teach at Ball State (University), but we’ve only worked together once before, and that was on the last production of ‘Revue!,’” Shepard said. “We are all so lucky to have Johnna onboard. She really is a genius at making these young artists sound like stars while propelling their unique stories through music.”
The song, “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods,” is powerful for Shepard.
“The lyrics and Johnna’s arrangement work so well to further the stories many of them are telling,” Shepard said. “These performers are very brave, sharing personal experiences about racism, dating as a member of the transgender community and being bullied. I respect their honesty and openness more than I can say. The social media section is also an eye-opener to me. These teenagers communicate and validate each other in ways that are so foreign to other generations.”
The cast has13 singers and actors, all high school age.
“Some are entering high school and some are already driving, working and thinking about college and future plans as adults,” Shepard said. “Even though they may only be four or so years apart in age, individually, they’re at very different places, which is also fascinating. I love seeing the leaders emerge and some younger performers rising to the level of their more experienced peers.”
Wyatt Painter, a 2023 Park Tudor School graduate, looks forward to the number, “It Hurts Me.”
“I chose this song for a previous audition at school, but I ended up not getting the role I auditioned for with that song,” Painter said. “I’m excited to take a song I worked on previously and turn it into something amazing with the help of the cast.”
Painter also is eager to perform “I’m Not Afraid of Anything.”
“The song is from a song cycle called ‘Songs For a New World,’ which I love,” Painter said. “I get to open the number with one of my friends and castmates, Caroline (Brundage). We went to school together this past year, it being my senior year and her freshman Year. However, we originally met last summer because we were both a part of last year’s ‘Revue!’ We have become good friends, so it means a lot that we can have this moment on stage together before I go to college.”
Painter has struggled the most with memorizing lyrics.
“The only time I have before rehearsal is my 30-minute break at work, but I always try and use my free time to study lyrics whenever I can. I work at my school as a camp counselor and co-leader for various camps,” Painter said. “Working an 8 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.) job where I’m constantly around screaming children alongside a four-hour rehearsal can be tiring, but I love both, even though I struggle with memorization sometimes.”
This is the second year Painter has appeared in ‘Revue!”
For more, visit civictheatre.org/revue.