McKinzie cast in All State Performance

Gena Mendez, Reporter

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The 2017 All-State Musical Production of Sweeny Todd had only nine main roles to fill from a pool of students from all over the state. This year’s production included U-High’s very own, senior Caroline McKinzie.

The auditions to make this cast are incredibly intense.

“Last summer I auditioned at the downstate audition in Champaign,” McKinzie said.

The first round of auditions took place in two different locations, one downstate and one in a Chicago suburb. Callbacks were the next step in the audition process.

“Every single person at the callbacks was really talented. It was really cool to see but also a little intimidating,” McKinzie said.

From there the cast list was announced and rehearsals began.

“We would rehearse from June until January on long weekends if we had a Monday or Friday off,” McKinzie said. “Sometimes I would drive up right after school.”

These weekends would consist of 20 plus hours of rehearsing. During rehearsal weekends students would host each other at their houses. The final week before the show the cast went up and stayed in a hotel for production week.

“I became such good friends with everyone in the show,” McKinzie said.

All this work would be done to put on shows during the Illinois High School Theatre Festival.

There were shows twice a day from Thursday to Saturday and an invitation-only dress rehearsal Wednesday. McKinzie played the part of Joanna, who is Sweeney’s daughter.

McKinzie described the part to be musically challenging and interesting to try and stay in the role while still keeping the attention of the audience.

The scale of the production and how passionate the people were about musical theater were some of the aspects that made this production special for McKinzie.

“Fake blood would squirt out of people necks and chairs would fall when people died,” McKinzie said.

One of the most challenging parts of such a long and taxing rehearsal process was staying vocally healthy.

“I drank so much water, vitamin C, and tea that week and had to try not to talk,” McKinzie said. “The guy who played Anthony, my love interest, got food poisoning the day before and I had to kiss him in the show, so I was a little nervous about that.” McKinzie said.

But in the end, the production was a success filled with Illinois student talent.

“It taught me a lot because everyone in the show was so good and it pushed me to be better,” McKinzie said. “The director would say Joanna and Anthony were the two rays of light in a darker show so it was cool to be a part of that.”

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McKinzie cast in All State Performance