While not looking at herself as the most likely candidate, English teacher Cher Schwartz was proud to announce her placement as choreographer for the 2020 IHSA All-State show.
“It’s a really big honor. I didn’t seek it out, and there was no application or posting for it,” Schwartz said. “An old theater teacher texted me over Thanksgiving and asked to speak with me and asked if I would interested in choreography for the All-State show. I was obviously honored just to even be thought or talked about. I have a strange dance background, so I was honored to even be brought up.”
Although the All-State show isn’t until 2020, there is a lot of preparation that goes into organizing a show at such a large scale.
“Right now we’re currently in production. The All-State show won’t perform until next January 2020. We’ve been organizing and preparing for auditions that will happen in June,” Schwartz said. “Then in the fall every long weekend we go to Glenbard North and have rehearsals nine a.m. to nine p.m. We try to jam pack everything in there. The week before the show we spend the whole week at ISU to set up and tech the show to get ready for Theatrefest.”
There are challenges, however. Working with such a large amount of people and not knowing most of them can have its difficulties.
“The challenge is it’s on such a grander scale than I’ve worked on before. There will be about 75 to 100 kids on a stage that I’m not familiar with. I’m also working with a team that I don’t relatively know. We’re all from different parts of the state, so it’s really cool to have that kind of networking, but it’s a challenge for sure,” Schwartz said.
What outweigh these difficulties, though, are the benefits. Having the chance to work on such a large scale has its advantages, including a larger budget for the show.
“Just being able to explore a show with new people and play with a budget that I’ve never had before has been the most fun part for me. It’s a bigger budget than I’ve ever worked with, and going to design meetings allows me to see what goes into a more professional looking show, not that we don’t have that here, it’s just on a grander scale than what I typically work with,” Schwartz said.
Students and faculty are encouraged to participate in the All-State show. No matter the outcome of trying out, there is always next year and time to improve.
“In Grayslake, the reputation of the All-State show is such a huge honor. It’s on a very large pedestal, and I feel as though students and even faculty view it as an unattainable thing. It’s viewed as almost a fraud complex,” Schwartz said. “But being in these meetings, the directors and people running the festival that have worked on these things since high school are so passionate about making sure that all students have the experience to at least try out. If it’s a money issue, they will cover it. If students are scared to try out, come anyway, and if you’re not chosen for that year, come again. They want everyone to have a shot.”