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Published: Saturday, 1/5/2013

Young performers seek chance to shine at Cedar Point

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Alana Lesnansky of Youngstown, left, and Lauren Fahlman of Canton, Mich., audition for Cedar Point’s Live Entertainment Division.
Alana Lesnansky of Youngstown, left, and Lauren Fahlman of Canton, Mich., audition for Cedar Point’s Live Entertainment Division.
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SANDUSKY — They came with big songs, quick steps, and high kicks.

Dozens of performers auditioned Friday at Cedar Point for dancing, singing, and behind-the-scenes roles in the nine or so shows the amusement park plans to stage during its 2013 season.

Hopefuls crammed hallways and a wood-floored, mirrored rehearsal room on the Sandusky park’s grounds. Herbe Donald, manager of live entertainment, said that as many as several thousand people try out each year during months of audition dates, with the park hiring between 150 and 200, including about 60 performers, for seasonal entertainment jobs.

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Friday’s audition was timed to take place during college students’ winter breaks, when those trying out have more flexibility to travel.

Many who auditioned Friday were from northern Ohio, but some came from as far away as Oklahoma. They wore dress shirts, dance shoes, and huge grins, and executed precise spins.

Colleen Weiher, 23, of Toledo said she’s a pharmacy technician with eight years of dance experience. She started with Irish dance and expanded into modern dance and ballet. She emerged from a crowded dance room after showing her moves.

“It was really fun. It was a lot of people in a small room,” she said.

Allison Lemke, 18, of Elmore, is a freshman studying criminal justice at Eastern Michigan University, but she’s been dancing since she was 4. She’s learned ballet, tap, and jazz, and said dancing would be a fun summer job.

Inside a rehearsal room, those conducting the audition walked dancers through the steps and emphasized performance basics. Projecting a peppy personality is important — a “Christmas every day” kind of attitude was one suggestion. Auditioners responded with enthusiasm; their good nature included clapping for others competing for the same jobs.

Those hired will perform one show five to six times a day, six days a week. Lisa Jones, who choreographs and directs the park’s shows, said that’s one reason she looks for energetic performers with strong voices and plenty of stamina. The summer job can prepare performers, many of whom are college students, for other opportunities.

“It teaches them a work ethic; it teaches them how to do a job that does mean you have to take care of yourself,” she said.

The amusement park's performers have gone on to work on bigger stages and in national tours, Ms. Jones said.

One notable past performer is Stephen Flaherty, composer of the musical Ragtime, who was once a Cedar Point piano player, Mr. Donald said.

Not everybody who showed up Friday dreams of a career on stage. Jacquelyn Duncan, 19, of Toledo graduated from Bowsher High School and is now studying theater design, technology, and stage management at Wright State University in Dayton. She’s seeking a stage management spot at Cedar Point.

Theater work, Ms. Duncan said, “gives you an adrenaline rush.”

“I’d really like to work here because it’s a different experience than just being in an auditorium,” she said. “I love all the commotion.”

Park officials said they will begin to make hiring decisions in the next couple of weeks.

For a list of remaining audition opportunities, go to the Web site www.cedarpoint.com/auditions.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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