April 17, 2018 | A Conversation With Wally Calderon...
A Conversation With Wally Calderon, Artistic Director of Servant Stage Company
By Steven Brodsky
It’s a pleasure to bring our readers coverage of Servant Stage Company. Servant Stage, based in Lancaster County, PA, continues to grow, enriching the cultural life of our region. The company has two productions set to open next month. It has expanded its summer youth arts program. More people than ever are enjoying Servant Stage performances.
In addition to traditional performance venues, shows are presented at retirement communities, nursing homes and other locations—with pay-what-you-will ticket pricing.
Let’s revisit with Servant Stage Company’s Artistic Director, Wally Calderon.
Servant Stage will be presenting Jukebox Saturday Night! (May 18-20, 2018 at The Junction Center and on tour across Lancaster County May 7-16, 2018) and I’ll Fly Away (May 26-27, 2018 at Lancaster Alliance Church and thereafter at other locations through August 2018). Wally, please tell us about these plays.
Jukebox Saturday Night! is everything you would expect from the title. It is an extremely high energy original review featuring the best young talent from across Lancaster County. From ’50s to Broadway, from Disco to Country—it’s one chart-topping hit after another.
I’ll Fly Away features a group that has become a staple of Servant Stage, the Backwoods Bluegrass Band. It’s a lot of great toe-tapping music, a lot of laughs, and a lot of fun. The show will also feature a rotating list of singers from across Lancaster.
Jukebox Saturday Night! has a youthful cast. Are most of the cast members graduates of Servant Stage Company’s summer youth arts program?
We have an amazing cast of 28 young performers between the ages of 11-18 from across Lancaster County. Eleven of them have been a part of our summer youth camps over the past several years. Another handful have been a part of our mainstage productions in the past. And yet another handful are working with Servant Stage for the first time. It’s a great mix of backgrounds. All of them were selected by having gone through the audition process for our 2018 season where over 200 people were seen.
That program has expanded. How so?
We couldn’t be more excited about the future of our youth theatre program. The numbers speak for themselves. Three years ago, we had zero youth camps, and therefore zero students in our program. This summer, we will have three summer youth camps. Two of those camps are already filled with over 60 students in each of them. And we expect the same of our third camp. This would bring us to somewhere between 150-180 students with us this summer. Beyond that, we knew we wanted to offer a show for those who wanted more, and thus Jukebox Saturday Night! was created. We will continue to grow and add more opportunities, which will eventually lead to year-round programming for youth.
You bring much experience to Servant Stage productions and the summer youth program, having worked in a number of theatres as a performer, director, and choreographer. Please tell us about the work that you have done at Sight & Sound Theatres.
I was so incredibly fortunate to be able to spend 4 years full-time with Sight and Sound, and am forever thankful for all they did for me. I learned so much from my time there, and am also very lucky to still be able to work with them on certain projects independently. In my time, I wore many hats serving as a Performer, Production Stage Manager, Choreographer, Assistant Director, and as a Director as a member of the Producing Group/Story Department. I spent time both at the Lancaster location as well as in Branson, Missouri. I am thrilled that I have been able to take many things I learned there and apply them to help Servant Stage Company!
Some of the participants in the summer youth arts program will go on to lifetime engagement with theatre. How often do you reflect upon the significance that the program has for its students and community?
While I am often proud of seeing what these students go on to accomplish, and though reflecting is often important, my primary focus is on the here and now. Whenever working with students in an educational setting and training environment, I take the responsibility seriously and am just trying to pour into them as much as possible. I like to have a lot of fun and make it very stress-free for them, and also try to reach each student exactly where they are to target what they need. But, unlike parents, I only get a certain amount of time with them, so I try to make each minute valuable for them.
Posted April 17, 2018 at http://delcoculturevultures.com/entertainment-culture-and-more/