Can you give us a little background on previous Christmas productions at CFPAA?
We wanted to produce an indoor holiday spectacular that united professional artists with select students from Carolina Forest Performing Arts Academy and around the county. When we premiered this show in 2014, the response was indescribable, and so, we seek to make it a mainstay and longstanding tradition along the Grand Strand.
The production is written and produced by Bryan Beaman. He is also Co-Director/Choreographer, along with Erica Pike, lead Instructor at Carolina Forest Performing Arts Academy. The show also includes choreography from CFPAA instructors.
Is there a theme for the production? Can you give us an idea of what sort of performances will we see?
In Carolina Christmas Spectacular, you will see superior dances in the style of ballet, Rockettes, hip-hop, contemporary, acrobatics, and tap. In addition, Carolina Christmas Spectacular will feature vocalist and top five South Carolina Teacher of the Year, Joey Trail. Trail held the starring role in the national tour of Lost in the Fifties. He was a featured vocalist and dancer at the Carolina Opry in The Carolina Opry Live and Good Vibrations shows for five years before spending two years in Branson, Missouri, performing with Starlite Entertainment and the World Famous Platters. You will also hear the vocal stylings of other professionally acclaimed singers.
In addition to the professional singers, the show will also feature professional dancers alongside select dancers and singers from across Horry County. Professional dance credits include America’s Got Talent, Billboard Music Awards, Cotton Bowl Parade & Halftime, Indy 500, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Palace Theater Productions, a national tour of A Chorus Line, and The Carolina Opry.
What is the process behind creating a program for the production? Is it a collaborative process?
The process behind the original production was one that had been years in the making. The motivation for the joint venture was twofold. For Myrtle Beach Entertainment and Productions LLC, it was an opportunity to offer a professional level production that serves as an alternative or addition to families’ holiday traditions. Returning for the 2018 Holiday Season, Carolina Christmas Spectacular offers a full scale production at more affordable ticket prices, as compared to other local professional venues. For the academy, it serves as an opportunity to provide our students with more performance opportunities. This has been a standing goal of the academy since we opened our doors. As the academy has grown, we have continued to think outside of the box for ways in which we can provide more comprehensive performing arts performance incentives.
How is the process of incorporating professional talent with the students at CFPAA?
The integration of professionals and students from the academy in a production is surprisingly seamless when it comes to the artistic integrity of the show. In fact, it is often hard to tell which ones are the professionals and which ones are pre-professionals. The students of CFPAA come with training and experience that is beyond the norm for their age. The students at CFPAA already come with the training and experience that sets them apart from the traditional dance student.
The only challenge to this incorporation of professionals and pre-professionals is scheduling. Many students of CFPAA are already loaded with core classes and competitive routines. Pre-professionals involved in the Carolina Christmas Spectacular must add additional weekend rehearsal hours which started in July! On average, our pre-professional students will have rehearsed more than eighty hours for this production. This is a strain on our academy parents, but they accept the challenge because they understand and appreciate the value of this rare opportunity.
Are all students at the arts center participating in the production?
No, not all CFPAA students are involved in the production. However, all CFPAA students are involved in our end of the year showcase in June, also at the Beach Church Theater. As for Carolina Christmas Spectacular, we remind our non-participating students that it is something to work towards. This professional production is separate and independent from the services and training they receive at CFPAA, but it does serve as a potential opportunity for them down the road in their training. The cast is made up of about 90 people, most of them CFPAA students. It certainly is a show your child should put on his or her goal list to work towards!
What do you find about the students while they are working with the professional talent?
I am sure there is an incredible opportunity for learning thru example!
When our pre-professional students are working with the professional talent, the level of focus, engagement, and effort soars. The students fully understand this golden opportunity, and they treat it as such. It also validates our students while serving as a “full-circle” moment for the professionals.
Do you find that this production inspires other children to become interested in dance and the performing arts? Does this midyear performance create a renewed interest for some to join mid-year?
We hope that Carolina Christmas Spectacular inspires other children to become interested in the performing arts, but that is not the primary goal of this show. The principal focus of Carolina Christmas Spectacular is to provide the consumers of this area a professionally produced, directed, choreographed, staged, designed, and costumed full scale two hour production.