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updated: 7/7/2011 2:34 PM

Kaneland welcomes former stars in Fine Arts theatre production

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  • Cast members rehearse their roles in "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School. The musical, which is part of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival, features children and adults of all ages.

       Cast members rehearse their roles in "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School. The musical, which is part of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival, features children and adults of all ages.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Greg Liske, playing the role of rock star Conrad, performs onstage during rehearsal for "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School.

       Greg Liske, playing the role of rock star Conrad, performs onstage during rehearsal for "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Teresa Arnold, playing Rosie Alvarez, and Matt Scharlau, playing Albert Peterson, rehearse for "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School. Scharlau is reprising a role he performed 17 years ago when he was a senior at Kaneland.

       Teresa Arnold, playing Rosie Alvarez, and Matt Scharlau, playing Albert Peterson, rehearse for "Bye Bye Birdie" at Kaneland High School. Scharlau is reprising a role he performed 17 years ago when he was a senior at Kaneland.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Samantha Kiesel
skiesel@dailyherald.com

Rehearsals for the second annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival summer theater production may have caused director Diane McFarlin some deja vu.

Not only is she putting on a production of "Bye Bye Birdie," a musical she directed when she was a teacher at Kaneland High School in 1994, but there's a familiar face in the lead role. Matt Scharlau of St. Charles, who performed the role of Albert Peterson in McFarlin's production 17 years ago when he was a Kaneland High School senior, will reprise his role this month in the Kaneland Summer Theatre production.

"Matt is such a great guy and he brought some really strong talent in this production ... I'm having a ball," McFarlin said.

There are also two other actors this year that were in the show with Scharlau in high school.

"I was watching the old videotape from the show and was like 'I actually did that,'" said Scharlau, surprised at how different he was back then. "I was just a kid. I had no idea what I was doing and I can see how my experiences since then have helped me grow."

The Fine Arts Festival is a one-day festival in April, but last year the committee wanted to add a theater production in the summer. McFarlin of Sugar Grove said it's similar to a community theater production, because all ages are encouraged to audition. Last year's production of "The Music Man" -- which McFarlin directed and Scharlau had the lead role -- had an age range of 8 to 78, which means the committee needs to pick productions that have children and adults in the cast.

"We look at musicals that have a lot of people and you have to look at the age ranges," said McFarlin, who is also a committee member of the Kaneland Community Arts Festival, and is one of the assistant principals at Kaneland High School.

"We did 'Birdie' because we have lots of teenagers and a core group of adults, so it just seemed perfect."

One major change of this year's festival from last year's is the extension of the show's run to two weekends. Friday and Saturday productions start at 7 p.m., and Sunday shows start at 2 p.m., at the Kaneland High School auditorium. Shows are set for July 8-10 and 15-17.

"We took a leap this year and expanded it to two weekends," McFarlin said. "We hope it will grab a bigger audience and now the community knows who we are and what we're doing from last year."

McFarlin is not producing the show by herself but with the help of Maria Dripps-Paulson of Sugar Grove, musical director for "Bye Bye Birdie" and executive director of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival.

Longtime friends McFarlin and Dripps-Paulson said they worked on musicals together when they were both teaching at Kaneland. At that time McFarlin was a special-education teacher and Dripps-Paulson was the band director.

After wanting to put something together with the community, for the community, Dripps-Paulson said there are about 80 people involved in "Bye Bye Birdie" -- from the pit orchestra to the actors and the crew members.

"We have been rehearsing since the last week of May," Dripps-Paulson said. "We had one less week to rehearse than last year since we added an extra weekend this year but it's still going to be a great production."

And putting that show together in a few weeks is what Scharlau loves.

"There's just something about (theater)," he said. "Creating the magic onstage and having only a few weeks to bring the images to life, it's what I love about live theater. You never know what's going to happen."

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