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Blindauer and Pisoni to Perform at Muny

David+Pisoni%2C+junior%2C+plays+Nick+Bottom%2C+in+A+Midsummer+Night%E2%80%99s+Dream.+The+performance+was+April+4-7.+
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Blindauer and Pisoni to Perform at Muny

David Pisoni, junior, plays Nick Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performance was April 4-7.

David Pisoni, junior, plays Nick Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performance was April 4-7.

Alyssa Shellabarger

David Pisoni, junior, plays Nick Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performance was April 4-7.

Alyssa Shellabarger

Alyssa Shellabarger

David Pisoni, junior, plays Nick Bottom, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performance was April 4-7.

By Kayla Schweitzer, Marquette High School

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This summer, David Pisoni, junior, and Rebecca Blindauer, theater teacher, will be a part of theater productions at the largest outdoor theater in the nation: the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (Muny).

Pisoni was cast as part of the teen ensemble for “Kinky Boots,” one of the several shows the Muny will perform this summer.

“I got the call in the middle of pre-calc, so I was freaking out,” Pisoni said. “I was very shocked and I was really excited, but it was kind of mind-boggling because it was so unexpected.”

Pisoni has a long history of work in theater, having done six productions at Selvidge Middle School, five years of work with Spotlight Productions, four shows at MHS (“Anything Goes,” “Addams Family,” “Leading Ladies,” “Into the Woods”), and was a background singer at the Muny last year.

Pisoni has been auditioning at the Muny since he was in sixth grade and said that making the most of every opportunity helped him get to probably the most prestigious theater he thinks he will ever perform at.

Still, Pisoni said some things matter much more than an impressive resume.

I got the call in the middle of pre-calc, so I was freaking out. I was very shocked and I was really excited, but it was kind of mind-boggling because it was so unexpected.”

— David Pisoni

“Generally, during the audition, just being happy and keeping a smile on your face helps a lot,” Pisoni said. “Even when I’m not the most amazing dancer, keeping the emotion of what I’m doing and just having fun is really important.”

Nancy Sherwin, director of Youth Programs at the Muny, said that while the kids who audition have dance teachers and voice teachers and mentors, she tries to teach them that they often cannot control the final answer.

“I try to help them psychologically for the way this business works,” Sherwin said. “You have to be resilient and understand that sometimes you will never know why you didn’t get it.”

For the teen auditions, the qualities most sought out are very strong dancing skills, strong vocals and a quick learning pace.

The Muny seats 11,000 people, and Sherwin said its immense size, along with being outdoors, allows the Muny to do many things that most other theaters cannot, such as using an actual helicopter, live horses and camels and fireworks. But she said that for child actors, it can be a lot to take in.

“It’s a little daunting, actually, when you walk out there on stage because the shows start at 8:15, and during the summer, it’s still light, so you can actually see that there’s eight bazillion people out there watching you,” Sherwin said.

It’s always a little bit of like a heart skip because I look at my phone and I see that it’s Michael Baxter [Muny Artistic Associate] calling. I try to sound all cool and calm and collected, but on the inside I’m freaking out a little bit because it’s exciting.”

— Rebecca Blindauer

Rebecca Blindauer, theater teacher, was cast in the Muny’s production of “Footloose.”

Blindauer also has been a part of “The Music Man,” “Annie” and the 100th Celebration Gala at the Muny. These shows were a continuation of her extensive career in theater. Before becoming a teacher, Blindauer performed in the first Broadway tour of “The Producers,” the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” play at the Kennedy Center and many more.

“Teaching theater is amazing and I love it, and working with the kids to put on shows here is amazing,” Blindauer said. “But I’m still a performer, so getting to perform over the summers means I get the best of both worlds.”

Blindauer said that no matter how many shows she does, work in theater never becomes dull.

“It’s always a little bit of like a heart skip because I look at my phone and I see that it’s Michael Baxter [Muny Artistic Associate] calling,” Blindauer said. “I try to sound all cool and calm and collected, but on the inside I’m freaking out a little bit because it’s exciting.”

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on April 23, 2019.

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