VC Opera Theater offers dramatic wisdom
Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009 22:11
Lights glare. A pearl of sweat slides down your make-up caked face. You face a dark crowd of nameless faces, enjoying your performance on stage. You take a deep breath from your diaphragm, your stomach expanding for the final note. The note crescendo comes from the band and you just belt it. The crowd gives you a standing ovation.
While this may seem like a fictional story, or the life of a famous actor, out of reach from the average student, the life of this performer can be attained.
The Ventura College Opera and Musical Theater program teaches students the fundamentals of working in a theater.
Scott Groeneveld, a Ventura College graduate and program staff member, hopes he and the other staff can give students skills for theater, and the rest of their lives.
"We want to give them the theater experience from the ground up," said Groeneveld. "We want to give them the joy we've experienced for years."
The Ventura College Opera and Musical Theater, or VCOMT program, was established in 1998 after a dry spell of productions at the college.
Linda Ottsen, with the help of fellow music department faculty members Burns Taft and Robert Lawson, brought the VCOMT to life after opera workshop was added to the music curriculum.
Utilizing the financial assistance of community members and local businesses, Ottsen ran the program until her retirement, when Elizabeth Helms took over, providing even more passion to the program. "The focus is on the process, rather than the product," said Helms. "We find there aren't very many community colleges that teach audition technique and song and that's what we're doing."
The program begins teaching theater etiquette from the beginning, starting with auditions. The staff teaches audition techniques including song choice, how to present themselves and what directors are looking for. The students then go through a mock audition held by the staff.
"It's the toughest part," said Groeneveld. "You're putting yourself out there to be judged."
With the mock audition, students improve drastically before their real audition for the semester show the VCOMT produces. There are two shows every school year: a small production in the fall and a larger one in the spring.This semester's production is Joe Masteroff and Jerry Bock's "She Loves Me," a heartwarming musical that formed the basis for the films "The Shop Around the Corner," "In the Good Old Summertime," and "You've Got Mail." "She Loves Me" is the story of two co-workers in a Budapest perfume shop, Amalia and Georg, who instantly dislike each other the day they meet. They end up unknowingly becoming pen pals and falling in love.
"I think it's an interesting commentary on how we just look through people who could be very important to us," said Helms.
For an exclusive video interview with Daniella Portugal "Amalia," and a sneak peek of "She Loves Me," go to www.studentvoiceonline.com.