Apprentices in the spotlight at Theatre Aspen showcase ‘I Wish’ |

Apprentices in the spotlight at Theatre Aspen showcase ‘I Wish’


What: ‘I Wish,’ presented by Theatre Aspen

Where: Hurst Theatre, Rio Grande Park

When: Sunday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m.

How much: $25 ($15 for students)

Tickets: Theatre Aspen box office;

If you’ve been to any of Theatre Aspen’s shows this season, you’ve seen them in the casts and crews working alongside professionals all season. But Sunday night, the 2018 class of Theatre Aspen apprentices have the Hurst Theatre stage all to themselves.

The class of 17 apprentices is the largest in the six-year history of the program, which brings students and recent graduates to Aspen for the summer to apprentice in performance, backstage and technical fields.

Titled “I Wish,” the Apprentice Showcase is an evening of song, dance and story that culminates the summer-long experience.

Education apprentice Abigeal O’Donnell, 23, wrote the show, linking together solo and ensemble numbers and original medleys around the aspirational theme.

“‘I Wish’ was something that could encapsulate everyone’s goals,” said O’Donnell, a recent graduate of DePaul University who studied theater arts with a concentration in theater for young audiences. “My job has been finding ways to incorporate everyone’s voices in it and asking questions about personal wishes, trying to connect the songs they picked out.”

The songs range from the silly to the serious. The young artists have come up with an “Into the Woods” parody about their wish to actually get jobs in theater after this high-alpine summer, and they’ve put together an “Overdone Theater Songs Medley” with bits from “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked.” They’ve also plucked songs from current Broadway hits like “Mean Girls” and “The Band’s Visit” and from older ones like “Cabaret.”

In a “Dream Role Medley,” the performance apprentices have chosen the parts and songs they most want to land as they begin their careers.

In all, 16 of the apprentices will be on stage, including most of the technical and backstage apprentices. The production apprentices are mostly female, so they’ve conjured a parody of “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago” with lyrics about navigating the male-dominated field.

“They’re all learning to dance just to do this one number,” said apprentice Kimberly Sears, 21, who is producing the show.

Sears graduated from the University of South Carolina in the spring and is apprenticing in marketing and content development (if you follow Theatre Aspen on social media, you’ve seen her savvy video production).

“At the beginning of the summer I would not have known enough about the ins and outs of the field to be able to do this,” she said.

The professional staff at the theater has given the young students the reins as they prepare “I Wish.”

“It’s giving people the opportunity to actually be the voice of authority and make decisions,” Sears said. “I think that is preparing us for the real world.”

Along with learning the tools of the trade, apprentices are building professional networks in Aspen.

O’Donnell and Sears are heading to New York this fall, for example, taking internships with the Roundabout Theatre Co. and Ars Nova, respectively. After sharing a room in a home off Cemetery Lane this summer, the pair is going to stick together as roommates in New York.

“It’s a really positive learning experience and networking experience to meet people who are in a similar industry and who have similar goals,” Sears said. “That’s what it comes down to with this ‘I Wish’ concept, too. We all have these wishes and we’re here together to make them come true together.”

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