INA, Ill. - After wowing Rend Lake College audiences for the past year, actress Jordan McCoy will spread her wings with McLeod Summer Playhouse in June. The 19 year old from Mt. Vernon has been hired to play the housemaid "Ursula" in "Sound of Music" which opens June 25, and "Vicki" in "A Chorus Line" that starts the following week.
"I'm really excited," McCoy said. "The rehearsal schedule is from nine in the morning until 10 p.m., every day. We get Sundays off for church. I'm stoked. This is what I want to do professionally and this is kind of like my first paid professional stage actress job. I want everyone to come out and see it."
Named after long-time Theater Department Chair Archibald McLeod, McLeod Summer Playhouse through Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has been committed for more than 30 years to presenting popular professional theater to the southern Illinois region. Tickets and information for this summer's shows can be found online at www.playhouse.siuc.edu.
"It's boot camp for actors," RLC Theatre Director Tracey Webb said of rehearsal and production. "You start [in the morning] … on what they call condition dancing. After three or four hours of dancing, you rehearse, take a short lunch break, then rehearse all afternoon. And if you are in production you take supper and you do a full show at night. From morning to night it is nothing but show business."
"You learn an entire show in about a week and a half," RLC Music Director Sara Alstat added. "It's intense. But that's good. It's a top-notch facility and they have wonderful costumes and scenery."
Both Webb and Alstat played in McLeod Summer Playhouse just as their student McCoy is getting ready to do. Webb was in "A Chorus Line" in 1994 and Alstat played "Grizabella" in the 2006 sold-out production of "Cats." Neither offered any advice for McCoy. That's probably because of how much confidence they have in her and her dream of acting on Broadway.
"She's amazing," Alstat said. "I think Jordan has enough talent that she is going to make it one of these days in musical theatre. She is one of the most talented kids I've seen come through since I've been [at RLC]. She has the three qualities they look for in musical theater - acting, dancing and singing."
Webb said when she played in "A Chorus Line, " actors from all over the Midwest and as far away as New York City came to audition for the fiercely competitive and exhausting productions.
"It's pretty hard, you have to be a virtuoso - acting, singing and dancing to get in this year," said Webb. "Jordan has lots of training as a dancer so that really helped her out."
McCoy is involved in everything she can be as a theatre and music student at RLC. Under Alstat, she sings in several annual events with the college's Community Chorus and was "Alice" in the 2010 Madrigal Dinner Theatre production "Alice in Blunderland." And with Webb's direction, McCoy was "Ensign Nellie Forbush" in the recent RLC Spring Musical "South Pacific," and played the lead role in "Cabaret" last fall. In fact, McCoy's first steps on stage were in children's productions through RLC.
But Webb and Alstat aren't the only teachers helping McCoy hone her talents. For the past two semesters, she has received vocal training from Dr. Elizabeth Pettilot. Alstat said it is working wonders.
"Her voice has improved so much in the past year she has been taking voice lessons," Alstat said.
"Because I did pop music for so long, my musical theatre voice went untapped and unrehearsed, and I lost a lot of the elements you need for musical theatre," McCoy said. "I've improved so much and learned so much."
The lessons she's learned don't stop at singing, acting and dancing. McCoy has grown in many other ways while learning to reinvent herself. And she dreams big - the Juilliard School after RLC and then on to Broadway, she says.
"No matter how good people tell you you're doing, or how good you think are doing, you can always be better," she said. "There is always someone better than you, so you have to keep practicing always. Always. I'm practicing all the time. I keep myself busy doing productions. With each show I think I get better. And I'll just continue to do it until I can't."
"She is realistic," Webb said. "She's got the talent and she could make it. I could see her [on Broadway] in a few years. She has to be just as she is now - very professional. It's about perseverance. Just because one person tells you no doesn't mean you won't make it. You have to keep auditioning."
For more about the theatre and music programs at RLC, visit the college online atwww.rlc.edu/aca/la and click on "Fine Arts."