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For Conservatory Students, It's Showtime

The stress and excitement of the days leading up to this weekend's concert.

Editor's note: Marisa Malanga is a North Caldwell resident who will be a sophomore at West Essex Regional High School. She is participating in the Paper Mill Playhouse's Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory at Montclair State University. The five-week program culminates this weekend with the New Voices: Pure Imagination Concert at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Classes were over and this past week we were focusing on the technical aspects for this weekend's big concert. Everything became more stressful and the final touches were being placed on musical numbers. This was the most hectic time in the conservatory, but also the most enjoying. 

As we wrapped up classes last week, we rehearsed every chance we had during the day and finished our work in class.

In musical theatre, we worked on our duets, trios and some solo pieces. I did the song "Little Shop of Horrors" with two other friends. We put dance moves to the song and it was a blast of energy.

Sara Lazarus, our teacher, told us and other duets/trios to really communicate the song to the audience and tell a story together. My trio's mission was to communicate the idea that everybody in the audience better be aware of the scary, man-eating plant that was going to attack you. We had to put sass and attitude in the whole song, which made it even more thrilling to perform.

We finished our moves for the dance section, "It Had to Be You," directed by our brilliant dance teacher, Michele Mossay. We kept cleaning up the dance and really used our emotions to portray our dance.

One person not mentioned yet who has helped the dancers and Mossay tremendously is dance intern, Maria Malanga, who is also my amazingly talented older sister. 

Acting class was the most emotional class for me and many of the other students in the fourth week of the conservatory, especially on Thursday, our last day of class.

We spent the week doing a scene from the movie "Twilight," but Thursday was different than I expected. We worked through the lyrics of the finale song for the New Voices Concert.

We had to explore the truth of the song's words. Also, the students went back into character as our first assignment in acting class, which was to first study, then become our favorite childhood toy. Mine was a black toy poodle beanie baby.

We had to make our 18-year old selves bring our childhood toy to college, and if we couldn't, then we failed at our objective. By the end of class, students were crying because of the emotional journey they had been on in that last acting class.

Lastly, in monologues, I performed a dramatic one. I really had to work on just making it real and not playing a part. By the end of class and after my coaching session, I really felt like I connected with my monologue.

Everyone else in the class did awesome this summer. You could really see the improvement in everyone's monologue performance after a coaching session with our magnificent teacher, John Armstrong.

Where do I begin with rehearsals? Whenever there was downtime, students practiced their songs, dance moves and counts. Students formed as large of groups as they could to go over numbers for the New Voices Concert.

When not rehearsing for the Opening Number or Act One Finale, we were in section rehearsal for the New Voices Concert. I am incredibly enthusiastic for my section, "The Joint is Jumpin,'" directed by my acting teacher John Housely.

The section consists of constant choreography with some Fosse dance moves! Every student must and always place every ounce of energy into rehearsals because once the show arrives, all of the hard work will be worth it.

If you are really looking for a treat this summer, consisting of 120 of New Jersey's most talented performers, come see the New Voices of 2010: Pure Imagination Concert. The show opened Friday night and continues with two performances Saturday.

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