When Allison Cherry stepped onto the Children’s Theatre of Elgin stage in 1992 as a second-grader, she never dreamed that she would one day end up running the show. But 20 years later, as writer and director of CTE and Fox Valley Theatre Company’s annual combined summer show, she is leading a whole new generation of artistic staff, most of whom grew up performing with CTE/FVTC.
Cherry, a 28-year-old teacher at Prairie View Grade School in Burlington, directs CTE/FVTC’s "iSing: Sounds of a new Generation," which will be presented June 21 to 23 and June 28 to 30 in the Elgin Community College Arts Center’s Blizzard Theatre. The show features nearly 115 students performing dozens of pop songs. The kids represent numerous communities in the northwest suburbs and Fox Valley.
To reflect the youthfulness of the artistic staff, Cherry opted to use only current music. Last summer, CTE/FVTC celebrated its silver anniversary with a showcase called "Simply the Best," which featured favorite songs of the group’s founders and audiences from the past 25 years. This year, all of the songs were written after the year 2000, and the title "iSing" is a play on Apple’s iPod to represent a new generation of music.
“We’re entering a new era of directors, choreographers, vocal coaches and cast members,” Cherry said. “What better way to kick off a new beginning than with a show of current hits?”
Nearly all of iSing’s vocal directors and choreographers are CTE/FVTC alumni, and it’s also a family affair for Cherry, because her father and brothers are working on the show, too. Her older brother, Christopher, a 31-year-old teacher at Hampshire High School who performed with CTE/FVTC for 13 years, serves as music director and is also vocal director for the group’s older students, while her younger brother, Brian, is designing the show’s lighting.
Two other vocal directors, Jonathan Horn and Erin Minogue, are also CTE alumni, and choreographers Andy Bero and Sarah Robertson performed with CTE/FVTC when they were students. Bero has recently returned to Elgin after a career in professional theater that included two national Broadway touring shows: "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Wonderful Town."
"iSing" is produced by Cherry’s father, Greg, who has been a CTE/FVTC board member for 23 years.
Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 21, 22, 28 and 29, and 3 p.m. Sundays, June 23 and 30. Tickets cost $10 each and are available at the ECC box office, 1700 Spartan Drive, Building
H, Room H143, Elgin; by calling 847-622-030000 or online at elgin.edu/community.aspx?id=18079&taxonomyid=1374. For more information, visit www.cteelgin.com.
Children’s Theatre of Elgin was founded in 1988 by David and Peter Akemann, who envisioned a theater company that would give the community affordable access to performances put on by children for children. Today, the group operates as a nonprofit, in-residence ensemble at the Elgin Community College Arts Center.