By Kristin Boza
The 45th Annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival, presented by the Illinois Theatre Association, takes place on Jan. 9 to 11 at Illinois State University; theatre students from around the state will perform Elton John’s AIDA in the largest and oldest non-competitive high school theatre festival in the country. Three Mother McAuley High School students earned spots on the cast and crew, and the vocal director of the entire production is Beverly/Morgan Park resident Carolyn Brady. More than 4,000 students, teachers, university representatives, exhibitors, and volunteers will participate.
Brady’s extensive musical career includes being in the All State Cast as a senior in high school. Now, she is the Music Director for the Saint Ignatius College Prep Harlequins and is on the voice faculty of the Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, along with private voice coaching to professionals and students.
“Hundreds of high school students from across the state audition to be part of the cast; ultimately, 40 are cast, 40 are crew members, and others are selected for the student orchestra,” she said. “We rehearse one weekend a month from Aug. to Dec., and the show is put together, built, rehearsed, and designed during that time. Teachers and theatre professionals from across the state are selected to serve as part of the production team, and they lead the best students in the state to put together a top-level professional production.”
McAuley students Mary Helen Hennessy (Beverly/Morgan Park), Marguerite Reed (Palos) and Molly May (Mount Greenwood) were chosen for the production.
“I feel honored to be a part of such a big production and such a talented company of students and faculty. I was extremely thrilled to find out that I had been cast,” Hennessy said. “The rehearsal process has been a wonderful experience. I have always loved to perform and to do so with people who share the same passion means so much to me. I am very excited to perform for my friends and family because we have been working so hard over the past few months, and I can’t wait for people to see everything we’ve been doing.”
Aside from gaining valuable stage experience at a prestigious festival, students will stay on campus and attend numerous workshops, like stage combat, stage/special effects makeup, monologue coaching, and more.
“I am thrilled to serve in my current capacity,” Brady said. “I love helping these amazing young people shine and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.”