In Part 4 of ‘Catch This! McLean High School’s’ Catch Me If You Can Interviews, meet Choreographer Marielle Burt.
Joel: Tell us about your design experience and why you wanted to work on this production?
Marielle: I was really excited to work on the choreography for the production because the whole idea is that Frank is presenting an idealized version of his life as a con man. A big part of that is in the choreography and the girls in every scene and how they’re a part of his adventure and his fun.
What is your vision for your choreography?
I wanted the show to feel really poppy and a lot of fun for everyone involved: for the dancers, for the audience. That’s what the dance numbers are all about in this show. They present all the fun and the larger than life way that Frank experiences all these different cons that he’s running.
How has the choreography changed since your initial vision and meetings with the other designers?
Basically when I’m looking at each dance number, I look at how we want to stage it, how the set is going to look, how many dancers I have in each piece, and how I want it to feel. Usually I devise the steps on my own but once it gets on its feet in rehearsal with the cast, it evolves. It’s a really cool experience to see things get better and better and better with every rehearsal.
How has working with the cast aided you and the other directors in executing your vision?
We have an incredible cast for this show. Not only is the talent truly phenomenal, but also the dedication is beyond the caliber that I’ve seen in any other production for most high schools and for McLean. It’s a really cool and unique thing, especially since it’s a really challenging musical and has a lot of different elements going on in the choreography, the music and even the tech. It’s been great, though, because we’ve been able to overcome a lot of challenges because of the amazing cast and crew.
What have been some of the major challenges you have faced choreographing the show?
Some of the roles we have cast because they are trained dancers and so they’re really great to work with and they bring up the level of dance throughout the show; in contrast, many in the singing ensemble don’t have extensive dance experience. So, the hardest part of my job is to try and get them to look good and look like dancers even though they don’t have that much experience. It’s a lot of time and dedication on both their end and mine but, together, we’re working hard and getting better every day.
How has Amy Poe, your Director, supported your work for the production?
Ms. Poe is a fantastic director. She’s really great at seeing the big picture of where the show needs to go and how to bring all the elements together. Because of this, I can really focus on my one area, Bobby McCoy (Musical Director) can concentrate on the music, and Ben French, our student Tech Director, can really get things done within the tech elements. Meanwhile, she’s overseeing everything and bringing it together. She’s always great to bounce ideas around with as she has an incredible sense of creativity for every aspect and element of the production.
What are some of the challenges and positives of working in the MTC space?
Our biggest challenge here is stage space. We were able to overcome that to some extent by building a thrust which has given us and additional 320 square feet on our stage. In some numbers though, there are up to 25 dancers on stage along with set pieces and thing do get cramped. That’s always an obstacle for me and it’s something I have to take into consideration when I’m doing my choreography.
Why should audiences come see MTC’s Catch Me If You Can? What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing it?
It’s going to be a joyride! It’s a great show and a lot of fun; I know that everybody involved is having a grand time working on it and I really hope that anyone who comes to see it will have just as much fun watching it.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 1: Director Amy Poe.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 2: Alex Stone, Jack Posey, and Lily Lord.
Catch This! McLean High School’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Interviews-Part 3: Musical Director Walter (Bobby) McCoy.