Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Eagle Rock’s Take on ‘The Wiz’

Eagle Rock School students and faculty members are busy rehearsing for a series of performances of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical, “The Wiz,” which are scheduled in Estes Park at month’s end.

The Wiz Eagle Rock SchoolOur production of “The Wiz” (March 31-April 2, 2016) is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” using Motown, Funk and Soul music to rework the story into the context of modern African-American culture. A film adaption of the show was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Eleven talented Eagle Rock students and four staff members will perform in our staged version, backed by a live four-piece professional pit band. Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Eagle Rock School’s Music Instructional Specialist, directs the show, with co-direction by World Languages Instructional Specialist Brighid Scanlon and musical direction by 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow Michael Grant.

Performances will be staged beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 as well as Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at the Hempel Auditorium within the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Admission at the door is “pay what you like” and all proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Higher Education Fund.

But we digress. The story of Dorothy and her road trip to Oz has become known worldwide for its themes of home, belonging, belief in oneself and freedom. “The Wiz,” with its original premiere in 1975 with an all-black cast and African-American styles, boldly showed that this classic story belongs to everyone, with audiences of all races flocking to watch productions of “The Wiz” over the past four decades. In addition to be culturally empowering, it is a “joy machine,” gorgeously designed, with quick humor and irresistible melodies.

Preparations for our production began last fall with a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Theatre Students Dare to Present ‘Spring Awakening’

Spring-AwakeningFar be it for Eagle Rock School’s Music and Performance Department to turn and walk away from the edgier side of musical theater. In fact, if you take a look at past performances, the department has produced and presented such controversial programs as Urinetown and Rent.

So it’s no surprise at all that Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon — our Music & Performance Instructional Specialist — has chosen to push the boundaries even further this year, offering up a presentation of Spring Awakening.

The production will be staged at the Rialto Theatre in Loveland (Colo.) beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, with two more showings in the days that follow — Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m., and Friday, April 3, also at 7 p.m. The cost of admission is at the discretion of the audience member, but keep in mind that proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Fund — a cause that’s near and dear to all Eagle Rock students. The theater is located at 228 East 4th Street in Loveland.

And while this performance is definitely not suitable for children, there won’t be any body exposure and the overt sexuality is somewhat toned down. However, the show still contains plenty of adult content.

Here at Eagle Rock, we’re fortunate to have such a supportive administration. Spring Awakening tackles some really weighty issues that are very relatable to a lot of our students.

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With book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening is by turns irreverent, poignant, boisterous and thoughtful. The authors made the unlikely decision to Continue reading…

Latest Eagle Rock Grads Reflect on Education and Setting New Goals

Our eight most recent Eagle Rock School graduates took the opportunity to briefly reflect on their time here. Reading their comments, we were drawn to the similarities expressed by these new grads, each of whom will receive their high school diplomas on Friday afternoon, August 8, at a ceremony here in Estes Park, Colorado.

Where negativity is a normal theme of new students to our wilderness campus, it’s refreshing to hear comments about the good things the future holds for these graduates. And we think a lot of that comes from time spent looking for the similarities in your peers instead of the differences.

We’re not always sure why the curriculum at Eagle Rock seems to be so successful. We’d like to credit the administration, the instructors, the staff, the programs. But sometimes it just comes down to a couple of classmates sitting down on a boulder and discussing an issue that’s important to one of them.

So sit yourself down and listen as our new graduates — Nikolay Hayden, Marjorie Furio, Lesly DeLeon, Jeremy Coles, Nicole Bau, Tiffany Wright, Jessy Mejia and Jaliza Perez — relate their Eagle Rock experiences:

Eagle Rock School’s latest graduates.

Nikolay Hayden

Nikolay “Nick” Hayden grew up in Ukraine. When he was adopted at age 11, he relocated to Colorado where he was confronted with a pair of stumbling blocks — a new language and a different culture.

He lived in Colorado Springs with his mom, dad, two brothers, and a sister before enrolling at Eagle Rock. He came to us for a new experience — attending a traditional high school.

“I was crazy because I was young,” Nick said. “I was active all the time. That’s how people saw me.”

In his time at Eagle Rock, Nick said he’s become better at accepting people for who they are by co-existing with others within a small community. He said has also learned a lot from the structure here, which encourages him to be on time and to be organized. For those tools, he credits his house sister, Sandra.

“She helped me a lot in Juniper House,” he explained. “She helped me stay on track. She was really motivated, and I found myself following her because she helped me.”

After graduating, Nick plans to go home to work in lifeguarding or construction with the eventual goal of joining the U.S. Navy.

Marjorie Furio

Marjorie “Star” Furio struggled with the extroverted nature of Eagle Rock from the get-go. Growing up with her mom in Prescott and the Grand Canyon area of Arizona, Star lost her scholarship after receiving failing grades at another boarding school. When she arrived in Estes Park, she was surprised by the difficulty of living so closely with such a diverse group of people.

“I expected it to be cozy, and I had to adjust to conflict and feeling uncomfortable at times,” Star admitted.

She cites Human Sexuality as one of her favorite courses for being “really honest.” And she credits her instructors — Jen Frickey and Beth Ellis — for making her Continue reading…

Estes Park Duck Race Benefits Eagle Rock Graduate Fund

Estes-Park-Duck-Race-Start-LineThis year’s annual Rotary of Estes Park Duck Race — a huge event that has supported local charities in Colorado’ Estes Valley since 1989 — gets underway May 3 at Nicky’s Restaurant (just alongside the Fall River in downtown Estes Park, Colo.), and is highlighted by thousands of rubber duckies floating across the finish line on the Big Thompson River near Rockwell Street.

This event presents a fantastic opportunity for parents, supporters and fans of Eagle Rock to raise money for a great school-related cause, with $19 of every $20 “duck adoption” ticket going directly to Eagle Rock’s Graduate Fund. That’s about 95 percent of the proceeds, and it’s all made possible because Rotary volunteers like our own Jeff Liddle run the Duck Race, which keeps the costs low.

Last year we raised $8,222 through the sale of these yellow rubber river racers, and we’d like to exceed $10,000 this year. While the major enticement is, of course, to raise funds for Eagle Rock students, Race Day also provides participants with plenty of excitement, music and entertainment, and prizes.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You, the Eagle Rock supporter, ‘adopt’ as many ducks as you can afford at just $20 per duck by visiting EPDuckRace.org.
  2. Then, on Saturday, the 3rd of May, all of the ducks – including the ones you adopt – are dumped in the river at approximately 1pm MST
  3. The fastest ducks to the finish line win the prizes (and there are lots of prizes to be won).
  4. Not to worry because you do NOT need to be present to win!

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As we said, there are lots of prizes to be won. The Estes Park Duck Race is well known for its Continue reading…

Our “In The Heights” Production Will Be On Stage for 5 Shows in Fort Collins

Eleven Eagle Rock student actors, backed by our own student production team and an eight-piece professional pit band, are in final preparations for five performances of “In The Heights” at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins starting next Wednesday, March 19.

In-The-Heights-Eagle-RockThis recent smash-hit Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes has been called “The West Side Story for a new generation” (Chicago Sun-Times), picking up a total of four Tony Awards in 2008. A feature film adaptation is currently in the initial stages of production.

For our staged version, Miranda’s inspiring story is enacted by a cast of talented Eagle Rock students under the direction of Isaac Leslie and Brighid Scanlon.

This musical takes place in the barrio (neighborhood) of Washington Heights, New York City, where the majority of residents are Dominican-American. The story’s characters include Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner; Nina, a brilliant first-generation student; her doting parents Kevin and Camila who emigrated from Puerto Rico; and the Cuban-born “Abuela” Claudia, whose adopted family includes everyone on the block.

These characters struggle to find meaning in their personal stories and to transcend the grind of Big City life. In the rapidly gentrifying community of Washington Heights, home prices are rising and it seems that only pride, love and sheer determination — or a juicy piece of gossip — can offer them the strength to hold on for another day.

When someone in the working-class barrio wins the Lotto, the neighborhood is thrown into a tailspin. Themes of ambition, family, romance and personal identity play out over a sizzling soundtrack to create a Pan-American story that transcends national borders but is, at its heart, 100 percent New York City.

Since 2011, our Music and Performance Department has been part of the Berklee City Music Network. Nijaah Pierce (Vanessa), whose singing wowed audiences in last year’s performances of the rock musical “Rent,” is one of the students whose Berklee training will be on full display in her vocally challenging role.

Other members of the cast include the following Eagle Students: Continue reading…