LAKEWOOD RANCH — Students at The Out-of-Door Academy may be accustomed to small class sizes and small casts for theater productions.
But this weekend, they’ll be part of something much bigger.
Ten students from ODA will join more than 90 other youth on stage at the Sarasota Opera House Nov. 10, for the world premiere of “Little Nemo in Slumberland.”
Based on Winsor McCay’s newspaper comic strip, “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” the story recounts the adventures of a boy as he works to save Slumberland from an emperor who wants continual daylight. Nemo’s adventures include encounters with a crystal enchantress, giants, a floating bed and other magnificent sights.
Although the opera’s principal roles will be sung by members of the Sarasota Youth Opera, the youths will be joined by students from Booker High School, ODA and the Sailor Circus.
ODA’s Devin Bradbury, a member of the Youth Opera program, will have a solo as the character Princess Glimmerina.
“It’s been nothing but mind opening,” says ODA Music Director Lisa Rosser, of the experience for her students. “It’s really introduced them to a bigger world. It’s going to be something they never forget.”
Rosser said ODA took its seniors last school year to an opera at the Sarasota Opera, where they were introduced to the opera’s education outreach program. And, at the end of the year, the school was approached about participating in “Little Nemo.”
Since the start of the school year, Maestro Jesse Martins, of the Sarasota Youth Opera, has been coming out once a week to work with select ODA choir students.
“We get a better feel for the music when they come in,” Romano says. “They described how our voices connect with the movement and gave us (new perspective).”
Stephanie Muench agrees.
“(Maestro) made us step out of our comfort zones,” she says. “It was the most productive rehearsals I’ve had.”
Rosser says the lessons have helped students project their voices better, as well as improve their articulation and vocal technique.
Rosser says the opera is different than the choir performances to which her students are accustomed. “You’re not a choir when you are on stage. (They have) helped them to be more expressive.”
Students say they’ve been impressed with how hard students in the Sarasota Youth Opera work. They’ve also enjoyed every minute of the experience, which has been both challenging and eye-opening.
Though they may get a little nervous moments before their performance begins Saturday, for now, they are just excited to be a part of the action when the curtain rises.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Participating students from ODA