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Singing an American song for CCA schools

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN— Woody Guthrie lives.
The Iowa Theatre Artists Company (ITAC) brought the story and music of Guthrie to their stage in Amana in 2011, and it quickly became their most popular production with frequent sell-outs. The show returns for the 2012 season, including a benefit performance at the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) High School in Tiffin. The show, scheduled for Saturday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. is a benefit performance for the CCA Drama Department and will take place in the Performing Arts Center.
Guthrie’s music told of the hardships and glory of American life throughout the decades, and the show tells his story through vignettes depicting different phases of his life.
A cast of seven performers sing, play guitar, banjo, fiddle and other instruments; and serve as the narrators of Guthrie’s story. The “All Iowa” ensemble includes: Meg Merckens (South Amana), Paul Roberts (Sharon Center), Randy Sandersfeld (Amana), Joy Ward (Tiffin), Ryan Westwood (Bettendorf), Mark Wilson (Hills) and Karenza Yoder (Kalona). Thomas P. Johnson directs the show with musical direction by Mark Wilson, assisted by Randy Sandersfeld.
“The music is PHENOMENAL, and the presentation tells a wonderful story of America, music, and of course, Woody Guthrie,” Ben Macumber, Amana Elementary principal said. Macumber also serves as technical director for CCA theatrical productions.
“I think that Woody Guthrie gives students the opportunity to see professional theatre,” said Peter Huch, CCA’s Drama Dept. director. “A lot of students don’t get that opportunity and not only will they get the chance, but it’s on their stage.” Huch also said a large group of the CCA student body is involved in a variety of performing arts programs, from drama, the musical, band, choir, dance, etc. “Bringing in a performance of this quality shows students that performing arts is important in the school,” he said.
“The Iowa Theatre Artists Company is a non-profit arts and educational corporation,” explained co-founder Tom Johnson. “Part of our mission is to provide high-quality theatre productions to the people of the state of Iowa. In addition, we seek to support and enhance educational programs in the arts in general, and in theatre specifically.” Johnson said CCA, “(has a) strong music and theatre program, and as residents of the district, we are pleased to cooperate with their fundraising efforts.”
Tickets are available at all CCA schools with the adult price at $15 and $5 for students. For more information, 319-622-3255.