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UGF offering free performing arts workshops/variety show on Saturday

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Zachary Dennis, the director and choreographer for NDM Productions, leads workshops on auditioning at UGF this weekend.
Zachary Dennis, the director and choreographer for NDM Productions, leads workshops on auditioning at UGF this weekend.

Eight of the top performing arts experts in Great Falls give back to students and interested community members with a set of free workshops Saturday before a free variety show that evening starting at 7:30.

Leading the workshops are Michael Gilboe, Sarah Raines, Joel Corda, Cynthia Stevens, Zachary Dennis, Lynette Graff, Jeff Scolley, and April Wendt.

Each workshop is an hour long.

Gilboe will instruct on “Acting the song” in musical theater, Raines instructs on beginning singing tips in “Singing 101,” Corda will give a lesson on songwriting, Stevens will instruct on performance coaching, Wendt gives a lesson on theater movement, Dennis instructs on tips for musical theater auditioning, Scolley gives a lesson on performance poetry and finally Graff will give a lesson on A Capella singing. Steve Olson provides accompaniment for several of the workshops.

The hour-long workshops start at 11:30 p.m., with the final one set to start at 4.

With the student variety show, Raines said they have a good mixture set for the evening including a dance routine set to a K-Pop song, a dramatic reading of a Shakespeare soliloquy, a trumpet solo, a performance by the UGF Choir with piano and drum accompaniment, a short play, and a mash-up of, “somewhat dark” a Capella songs from the ArgoNotes, as well as a performance poetry piece and several individual singers, as well.

The top three winners will receive $50 each, which will be determined by the audience.

Raines said the workshops and variety show are a way for UGF to reach out to people who might be interested in stepping into the world of performing but cannot commit a whole lot of time yet to do it.

“My entire idea about this was that for the participants it’s a low-investment and high-reward thing,” Raines said. “You invest a couple hours for the classes and you get so much out of it. Not everyone can do a play for six weeks, and not every student or community member can sacrifice that much time but UGF still wants to provide those performing arts outlets for students, and along those same lines, we need an audience just like we need performers so if you know a UGF student in the show or just want to see a good show, come by and cheer them on.”

Cynthia Stevens leads a workshop on Performance Coaching at UGF this Saturday.
Cynthia Stevens leads a workshop on Performance Coaching at UGF this Saturday.

With the workshops, Raines said she expects Scolley’s poetry workshop to fill up quickly as he’s, “the fixture of poetry here,” and said while the first open spots go to UGF students, community members are open to signing up, as well.

She said truthfully she expects all of the classes to fill up as they’ve recruited several local experts in their fields to share what they know.

Each of the instructors have lengthy performing resumes, such as Raines who has a degree in classical voice from New York University, where she participated in several choirs including the NYU Madrigal Singers, and has performed in many productions such as “The Gift of Music,” in New York City, “The Wizard of Oz,” most recently with NDM Productions as the Cowardly Lion and previously as Dorothy Gale, and as Judy Garland/Amy Winehouse in the two productions of the UGF show “The Dead Legend.”

Gilboe is a Great Falls High and University of Montana Graduate and recently completed his MFA in playwriting at Hollins University in Virginia. He was the founder of the RST Spotlight Performing Arts Camp and The Green Room Community Theater. He owns the Copperhead Production recording studio and while in New York City produced albums for both independent musicians and several Tony, Emmy and Oscar-winning artists.

Stevens, meanwhile, has recently relocated to Great Falls from Houston. She earned two undergraduate music degrees from Maryville College and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Tennessee.

While a student at the University, she was chosen to participate in the Knoxville Opera Company Apprentice Program. She has performed as a soloist and taken students to Europe and across much of the United States.

She has taught private voice and piano lessons, conducted for several church and children’s choirs and was the coordinator of music and chorus director for Roane State Community College in Tennessee.

Corda is the choir director for the Great Falls Public School District and also recently directed Miss Linda Productions version of “The Sound of Music.” He has a new album coming out in the next few months along with a film project he started recording recently.

He received his MFA in Theater Performance from the University of Idaho and his Master’s of Education from Montana State University.

Dennis received his BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts in New York City and recently returned to Great Falls to start NDM Productions with his lifelong friend Ali Jo Sheets. The two just wrapped up the production of “The Wizard of Oz” last weekend.

If people are interested in signing up for a workshop, they can do so by emailing Raines at Sarah.Raines@UGF.edu, where they also can ask further questions.

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