At the Levine School of Music, too much talent is a problem.
“We have a lot of really talented kids,” explained Tracy Lynn Olivera, who started as the director of Levine’s Performance Institute, a full-year, comprehensive training program for teenage performers, in the summer of 2018. “But we only do two shows a year, and the shows have a finite number of roles, so we don’t get to showcase everybody.”
Olivera — a two-time Helen Hayes award-winning singer and actor who has performed on Broadway as well as all over the D.C. theater scene, headed Signature Theatre’s vocal division and served as Adventure Theatre-MTC’s voice and music director — is directing this year’s class in a showcase at Levine’s Silver Spring location. It’s part of the Performance Institute’s comprehensive training program, and Olivera said it’s a show theater-lovers of all ages won’t want to miss.
“It’s like a big cabaret,” she added. “There are a couple of dance numbers, some solos, duets and trios. You’re seeing the best kids do their best work. It’s sort of like the kind of showcase colleges do at the end of the year; everyone gets up and has their chance to shine.”
Photo Credit: Dayna Svoboda
Music Director Walter “Bobby” McCoy rehearses with Performance Institute students.
With five campuses located in the D.C. metro area — two downtown, one in Northern Virginia, one at the Music Center at Strathmore and one in Silver Spring — the Levine School provides opportunities for lots of kids and adults to shine. Every age group and musical interest can find classes here, in jazz, folk, classical and rock music as well as musical theater.
Only the best make it to Performance Institute. “The Performance Institute is a year-long, audition-only conservatory for high school kids,” said Olivera. “They audition in the fall and come three times a week. It’s intense! But they keep it up somehow.”
Most of the 21 teens in Levine’s Performance Institute juggle other artistic activities — Olivera noted she had just seen a musical at an area high school to see some of her students — but their roles in the Showcase Cabaret have been assigned to really, well, showcase their strengths.
“We’re treating it like a show,” said Olivera. “It’s all Broadway musical numbers — a big, healthy mix of old-school and contemporary numbers. Almost all of it people in the audience will recognize.”
Especially kids (and adults) who love theater. The show samples “A Chorus Line,” “Violet,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and more. Walter “Bobby” McCoy is the music director, and Maria Rizzo, the choreographer of the show, which features dance numbers as well as songs.
Olivera, who grew up in a small town in upstate New York before getting a bachelor of music in musical performance at Catholic University of America and making her name in shows at Ford’s Theatre, Signature Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Imagination Stage and Adventure Theatre-MTC, said that many of the Levine students are considering professional careers in the arts.
“They’re exceptional kids and exceptional performers,” she noted. “They’re good humans, too. Hard-working, very smart. As a director, I’m learning a lot from them; learning as much as they are.
“I’ve had a great year so far,” she added. “And the best part of it has been the kids.”
Levine Music Theatre will present its Showcase Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 at the Polinger Performance Hall, Silver Spring Library, 900 Wayne Ave, Silver Spring Tickets are $15. Call 301-328-5335 or visit www.levinemusic.org