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Allegro brings Broadway to the Piedmont

Courtesy Photo/Robert Jinks Photography
Three of the littlest Munchkins perform 'He’s the Wiz' at the Allegro camp. Pictured from the left are Aubrey Gibson, Lucy Underwood and Avery Rodgers.
Ten years ago, Cyndi and Mark Romero were sitting around their dining room table with friends and fellow musicians, Lachelle and Sam Yoder, batting around the idea of a combination music school and performance center.

They had 50 years of teaching and performing experience among them, and they all thought there was a real need for such an enterprise in the area.

So Allegro was born and the school opened in Nokesville in August 2004. Initially it was called Briar Patch Kids, and the focus was on an early childhood program they called Kindermusik.

Two of the founders loaned the school their personal pianos to get started. The school added piano, group voice, and guitar instruction and by 2007 the school had grown outgrown the Nokesville location.

The directors moved Allegro to Vint Hill and reorganized: the Allegro Community Music School became a nonprofit serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.

The school expanded its programs; teachers were added and they offered instruction in all the instruments -- piano, voice, guitar, percussion, all band and orchestra. They also added a glee choir, a youth orchestra a chamber ensemble, and (increasingly popular) classes for special needs children.

In May of 2013 the school expanded its horizons once again with a move to Old Town Warrenton.

“Allegro is all about performance and sharing music,” say its founders. “First, by teaching and training musicians; second, by providing opportunities to perform; and third, by encouraging interaction and community with other musicians.”

Venturing further into uncharted waters, the school opened The Allegro Cellar Door: a coffee house and performance space set in a rustic, intimate, friendly '30s atmosphere with a blues or jazz club vibe.

It was established initially as a performance opportunity for Allegro students but eventually expanded to include all artists in the community. The usual coffee house fare is available for a donation to the Allegro Scholarship /operating fund.

This summer Allegro unveiled the 2014 Broadway Camp, a theater arts education program dedicated to making the arts accessible to children and teens in the community.

Allegro describes the camp as “an immersive, four-week summer day camp, directed by Broadway professionals and offering enriching, hands-on experience in the orchestra and performance arenas.”

The camp will run through Aug. 8, is open to those ages 3-8 and will conclude with a special grand finale performance on Aug. 9 with tickets available to the public.

“This summer, children in our community will have the opportunity to see and learn what it takes to be on Broadway from Broadway professionals themselves; it’s very exciting,” said administrator Lachelle Yoder.

Director of the camp Brian Rardin comes to Allegro after a successful stage-managing role in the 2014 Tony Award-winning musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and many other Broadway credits.

Rardin has also appeared on Broadway in the revival of “Amadeus” and with David Suchet and Michael Sheen in the off-Broadway production of “Passion Play.”

Assistant director Penny Maas is currently assistant professor of musical theatre and performance at Texas Christian University and has worked as a professional actress, singer and dancer in New York City for more than 20 years.

On Broadway she had long, successful runs in three Tony award-winning shows including the original cast of “Crazy for You,” “Damn Yankees” and “Cabaret.”

She has also worked with such stars as Neil Patrick Harris, John Stamos and Brooke Shields.

Maas said, "It is great to work with such talented students. For the first week we poured into them everything: musical theater; monologues, choreography and music. As an educator it's a pleasure to see the campers grow and own their talent."

The camp provides a Broadway experience to the students, taking them from learning how to audition to the execution of a full performance.

"The Wizard of Warrenton" was written by director Rardin uniquely for this camp.

Primarily music, the performance will bring the “Wizard of Warrenton” theme to life using musical favorites and showcasing what the campers have learned from their four weeks at camp.

Yoder, executive director of Allegro, said, "We are excited to be able to offer students in our area a true Broadway experience by bringing Broadway veterans to work with them."

Julie Phelan, music director, is enthusiastic about the amount of talent and hard work the campers have put into the production.

There will be special preview performances at the end of every week of this four-week camp; the public is welcome to attend for free.

On Aug. 1, the First Friday Warrenton performance is from 6 to 9 p.m. in front of Allegro CSA and in front of the Post Office.

The final performance will be Aug. 9.at 7 p.m. in the Fauquier High School auditorium.

Ticket prices are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://allegrocsa.org/performance.
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