Jeff Sloter, who directed the hit production “The Foreigner” for Cornstock with Peoria native now Broadway actor, Steve Vinovich, has turned his sights on a musical. Mr. Sloter said he first met the playwright/composer Derek Childs 30 years ago during a production of “Bye, Bye Birdie” at the Roosevelt Magnet School. Mr. Childs who was about 16 at the time played one of the teenagers in the show. From that early beginning has come an interesting collaboration between director and composer as they work to restage Mr. Child’s haunted musical fantasy “Mr. Silver’s Children” for the Apollo stage at 311 S. Main St.
The talented Mr. Childs wrote the book, lyrics and music for the show 20 years ago while a student at Anderson University. For this “Halloween treat” production, he has revised some songs and added new ones notably a big upbeat number for Act 2, “Keep the Night From Falling,” as well as a more plaintive “Mother, Make Believe.”
The exceptional Andrea Molina is the musical director tasked with teaching the hard and challenging music to the cast which includes several children and adults and features veteran actor Curt Rowden in the title role. Mr. Silver and his wife (Tracy Furling) lose their home in a fire and are forced to relocate to an old abandoned orphanage which turns out to be haunted. The playwright, Mr. Childs, said, “this is a show for all ages. It’s scary, but it also has a heart as sweet and kind as Mr. Silver himself.” Those who know Mr. Rowden will know the lead is well cast. There is also a gaggle of children in the cast, which can be problematic since theater is demanding and stressful, but the director says there is “great camaraderie in the company” and “working with the kids has been great.” Two weeks before opening, the children know their lines, songs and dances, choreographed by Rachael Hayes and done in a style that furthers the storytelling.
The old Apollo theater is a good venue for this show. It is intimate enough that no microphones will be needed and the cast has been rehearsing diction and projection which with the current fashion of using microphones for all shows will be refreshing to have unamplified voices for the performance. The set will be theatrical, not realistic, with suspended metal bed frames suggesting both the orphanage and the sense of the imprisoned, haunted children.
The musical opens at The Apollo Oct. 27 and continues through Oct. 31. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. This “Halloween spooktacular” is rated G and is appropriate for all audiences. Tickets range in price from $10 to $20 and may be purchased at the door. More performance and ticket information may be found at the website: www.mrsilverschildren.com.