Learning toward fame
ICDA Performing Arts
Punching the snooze button. Racing to first period gym class. Short lunch breaks and long lectures. These are memories of a high school career.
Not so for the students at I Can Do Anything Charter High School Performing Arts. These students are at school before the winter sun rises, and the ice melts off the city streets. The performance-passionate teens spend as many as 12 hours a day in the rehearsal hall and classroom.
“Rehearsal is extended when we get near the show time,” says ICDA student Chad Holdridge, who, like his fellow classmates, sings and dances in the majority of the school’s performances (he favors dancing).
The school’s most recent production, Working, Stephen Schwartz’s Broadway-musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s nonfiction book, displayed the vibrant and varied talents of the students as they portrayed construction workers, firemen, waitresses and various blue-collar workers.
Lively musical numbers and poignant, sometimes silly, monologues were a perfect outlet for the students’ abilities. Energetic and fresh dance routines accompanied tight singing performances—evidence that these high school students actually pay attention in class.
Leslie Lick, ICDA teacher and the director of Working, is gung-ho about her students and the program.
“The performing arts program is in its third year. We perform three to four shows a year,” Lick says. “The students choose to come to ICDA for the program.”
The kids are short on time as they are booked with events and rehearsals, but, before the final bell rings each day, they still squeeze academic studies into their schedule.
As student Jeannette Faber comments, “It’s what we love to do.”
The teenagers’ interests extend beyond the classroom walls, too. Students Spike McGuire and Sarah Lindsey perform in an Improv group outside of school.
“The good thing for me is that I was always interested in acting, and now I have a pretty strong base in singing and dancing,” says McGuire. “It really makes you a more well-rounded performer.”
The students take their work seriously. Chris Lash is an example of the dedication students possess for their craft.
“During break, I went to talk to valets to get perspective on their jobs,” says Lash, who played a song-spurting valet in the Working production. “That was a really fun part.”
Each student has a favorite art-related subject. Student Mandie Drummond likes the playwriting and musical theater dance classes. Faber enjoys acting.
“I like that you really get to incorporate acting into it all,” says Faber. “The whole production is a story that you are telling so you really get to act it out.”
Like any headstrong high school student dreaming of life after graduation, these students have plans.
“I would like to go to college and major in theater,” says Lindsey.
“I want to go to college and do music performance,” says Drummond.
McGuire is packing up his experience and taking it with him: "I am moving to Chicago to go to the Columbia School of Performing Arts." The eastbound senior offers advice to future students—"If you are interested in auditioning, don’t be shy. You just need a good personality and willingness to work."