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Children’s Theatre of Elgin ushers in new era with ‘iSing’

A new new generatidirectors for Children's Theater ElgFox Valley Theatre Company. Back row from left are Andy Bero. JonathHorn Chris

A new new generation of directors for the Children's Theater of Elgin and the Fox Valley Theatre Company. Back row from left are Andy Bero. Jonathon Horn and Chris Cherry. Front row from left are Erin Minogue. Sarah Robertson. Allison Cherry and Brian Cherry. Submitted photo

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Updated: July 19, 2013 6:19AM



ELGIN — 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 near Elgin, directs CTE/FVTC’s “iSing: Sounds of a New Generation,” which will be presented June 21-23 and June 28-30 at the Elgin Community College Arts Center’s Blizzard Theatre. The show features nearly 115 Fox Valley area students performing dozens of pop songs and highlights one of the most vocally talented casts CTE/FVTC has ever had, according to a release from the two companies.

Cherry wanted this year’s show to reflect the youthfulness of the artistic staff, so she 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 in the release. “What better way to kick off a new beginning than with a show of current hits?”

Nearly all of the “iSing” vocal directors and choreographers are CTE/FVTC alumni. And it’s 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 vocal director for the group’s older students; 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 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.

“We like to joke that I bring the average age of the staff way up,” Greg Cherry said. “It’s really fun to see people excel at something they grew up doing as a hobby. One of the comments I’ve heard from the staff is that now they really appreciate all the work their parents and the artistic staff did to put these shows on in the past.”

While CTE/FVTC’s summer show always features talented students, “iSing” showcases a collection of the best vocalists CTE/FVTC has ever cast in a single show, according to the release.

“It was extremely difficult to hand out solos this year due to the overwhelming amount to talent, but that is a fantastic problem to have,” Allison Cherry said. “We are taking the summer show in a new direction, but cast members are enthusiastic because they came in with many of the songs already on their iPods. With the natural talent and added excitement of a new generation music, I know it’s going to be a great show.”

“iSing” performances will be at 7:30 p.m. June 21, 22, 28 and 29 and at 3 p.m. June 23 and 30. Tickets are $10 each and available at the ECC box office, 1700 Spartan Drive Building H, Room H143, Elgin; by calling 847-622-0300; or online at http://elgin.edu/community. For more information, visit CTE/FVTC’s website at www.cteelgin.com.



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