News Column

Colorado Springs Conservatory celebrates 20 years with 'Oklahoma'

June 12, 2014

By Jen Mulson, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

June 12--To celebrate birthday No. 20, the folks at the Colorado Springs Conservatory will perform "Oklahoma!"

The classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical opens Thursday at Armstrong Hall at Colorado College and brings together performers from across the country, including current conservatory students, community members and conservatory alumni. The conservatory provides after-school performing arts training for ages 4-19.

Brothers Tripp and Drew Fountain return to direct and choreograph, respectively. Last year, Tripp, a 2004 graduate of the conservatory and Lewis-Palmer High School, returned to make his directorial debut with the conservatory's production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." He's toured with "Hair," "Cats" and "Evita" since leaving town.

Choreographer and dancer Drew is a 2008 graduate of Lewis-Palmer High School and has performed with River North Dance Chicago and MOMIX Dance Theater.

"You know the most fun part?" says Linda Weise, who is founder and executive director of the conservatory and stars as Aunt Eller. "I'm on stage and being directed by an alumni. It is awesome. I sat there in the rocking chair and was like -- it's nice to let somebody tell me what to do."

Another familiar name in the cast is George Preston, general manager of Classical KCME 88.7 FM, who stars as Andrew Carnes. Once upon a time, Preston starred with Weise in "Kiss Me Kate" at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He graduated in 1982.

"It's fun to stretch those muscles," he says. "It's not like I don't sing, I do. I still have done some singing to try and keep in shape, and it makes me feel better to sing. It's kind of like a therapy to me."

The kids in the principal roles won't just be on stage; they'll be on the KCME airwaves, too. Project V is a new endeavor, led by Preston, to get the voices of young local actors on the air. Throughout rehearsals, they'll use recording applications on their phones to document some of their conversations with the director or choreographer or of them practicing the music. Preston will then help them edit the material and make it suitable for five- to eight-minute segments on air.

"We can talk about the activities of our youth in music and theater and arts in this town," Preston says, "and we can always interview them after the fact. But it's more compelling for their peers to hear their work on the air. I don't want to know in advance how their stories are going to turn out. I want to find out what the transformative process of putting a show up is like for them."

The first actor's segment is scheduled to air Sunday during the 5 p.m. hour and again at 7 p.m. Monday.

Weise remains grateful for the community's support of the conservatory over the past two decades.

"It's been a blink of an eye," she says. "I think it's the way I've asked the community to engage and invest in the students, and I do think of it as an investment, because these kids are growing up so beautifully, and now they're coming back. We've got alumni all over the city now."


By Colorado Springs Conservatory

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdayjune 19- June 21, 2 p.m.June 21-22

Where: Armstrong Hall, Colorado College, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St.

Tickets: $20, $10 students and kids 12 and youngerCQ; 577-4556


Contact Jennifer Mulson: 636-0270


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Source: Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)

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