This weekend, it’ll be show time for the John Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association (JBHS VMA). They’ll be putting on one of their most ambitious productions ever, Burroughs on Broadway 2013.
The audience is going to be in for something very special.
There’ll be over two dozen pieces, including highlights from Shrek, Peter Pan, Barnum and Will Rogers. It’s a program designed to bring out the sheer fun of Broadway, the hoped-for reward of nights of concentrated practice.
Last Monday was rehearsal night for the solo performances. Wednesday night was full dress, as will be Thursday night. Everyone was focused but not frazzled, taking the preshow glitches and the gremlins in stride. I recall what JBHS VMA Director BRENDAN JENNINGS said on an earlier occasion about “working yourself as hard as you can in a supportive and safe place, and then achieving something absolutely brilliant that you’ll never forget.”
Those words would normally apply to a dream outfit like Google. But it also applies to what’s been taking place on the JBHS stage.
The costumes, sets, sound, lighting, all great. But all these production values, as impressive as they are, are just the frame for a thrilling picture: teens that can sing, act and dance beyond their years. “Consistently from year to year, Burroughs and Burbank High are two of the top five show choirs in the country,” points out Brendan.
How did JBHS and Burbank High School (BHS) become top venues for excellence on the musical stage? One factor is strong community support that goes beyond funding studio-quality equipment. “We’ve got seasoned pros working with the students in technical production,” states Brendan. “And we’ve got a senior lighting designer who’s extremely collaborative with our students.”
Another factor is the performances. Younger students in the elementary schools are bowled over by the quality of the high school productions. Some of them start to dream big. “Kids inspired by the high school program are taking voice and dance classes earlier and earlier,” says Brendan. “Everybody realizes how incredibly competitive the VMA auditions are.” Some of the top singers at the feeder middle schools, Luther and Jordan, will debut in Burroughs on Broadway 2013.
It should start to dawn on us Burbankers that JBHS and BHS have become the community’s Performing Art Centers. Come see Burroughs on Broadway 2013 and I think you’ll agree that this is no exaggeration.
Burroughs on Broadway, October 11 and 12 at 7 p.m., and October 13 at 2 p.m. John Burroughs High School Auditorium, 1920 W. Clark Avenue, Burbank 91506. For tickets and information, visit www.jbhsvma.com.