Two Craig stars shine in 'Magic Flute'

Two youths from Craig have been showing off their talents in the opera "The Magic Flute," which is currently showing in Steamboat Springs.

The Emerald City Opera held auditions for the opera, which was composed by Mozart, in Craig and Steamboat Springs for the production.

Craig residents Jerry Davis, 18, and Holly Firestone, 15, are singing in the men's and women's choruses.

"Everyone had to sing a classical piece," said Keri Rusthoi, founder and general director of the ECO. "There were a lot of people who auditioned from the high school in Craig."

"I kind of was (surprised) because a lot of people auditioned and just Jerry and I were chosen," Firestone said of her experience.

"We hardly turned anyone away that we thought had the ability to do the show," Rusthoi said.

The range of this particular chorus is high and "we took that into account when casting," Rusthoi said.

"We didn't want to harm any young, developing voices," Rusthoi said.

The Emerald City Opera is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to producing professional-caliber, classical opera and traditional musical theater in the Yampa Valley.

The ECO produces one complete, full-scale opera each year and plans to expand its repertoire to include traditional musical theatre in the future.

"The costumes were built and designed by the Santa Fe Opera Company," Rusthoi said. "The likes of which the Steamboat High School has never seen."

Beside Davis and Firestone there are currently three members of the orchestra from Craig. Sandra Kruczek plays the violin and Bill Grimes and Bill Poovey both play the clarinet.

Before he had to leave town, Ray Zentz was the chorus master for the production and organized the chorus.

"(I like) the slave scene because I get to dance around," Davis said.

He plays both a slave and priest in the production.

"We are like the comic relief of the show," he said.

"Not only is he a priest, but he is a slave and a good one," Rusthoi said.

Oftentimes, Davis drives Firestone to the rehearsals, which last from 6 to 9 p.m.

"It is quite a bit of work," Davis said, who was active in the Moffat County High School theater department. Acting is something that Davis got into at the end of his sophomore year and he plans to study musical theater at Mesa State College or the University of Northern Colorado.

Davis portrayed the lead role of Jean Valjean in the high school's performance of "Les Miserables." The role was the aspiring actor's favorite part because "Les Miserables" is his favorite show.

"I have never had a part I didn't like," said Davis, who is a bass in the chorus.

Firestone, a mezzo-soprano, is going into her sophomore year at MCHS and auditioned for "The Magic Flute" with "I'm Going to Wash that Man Right Out of my Hair" from "South Pacific."

"My choir director, Mr. Zentz, said we should try out professionally," Firestone said. "I've actually never been in a production before."

Firestone plays a priestess in "The Magic Flute."

Zentz and her mother are Firestone's inspirations in singing, she said.

"Mr. Zentz because he pushed me to be better," Firestone said. "And Mom because she is really good at singing and I have always wanted to be like her."

The experience has been positive for both Davis and Firestone.

"(Being in the production) was a little intimidating at first," Davis said. "There are people here from New York and stuff, but they are really nice."

"(The best part of the show) is the people, I thought all theater people were mean," Firestone said. "But they are really nice."

Davis said he would encourage those who are interested to audition in future productions.

"If you don't make it, try again," Davis said. "Stay at it."

Liz King is an intern with the Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at 824-7031 or eking@craigdailypress.com.

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