Give my regards to Broadway!'

Syracuse native meets with students in New York City during two-day workshop

Jamesville-DeWitt High School's Show Choir, In Achord, recently completed a two-day workshop in the Big Apple, which included a private session with Syracuse native and Broadway director Richard Jay-Alexander. Jay-Alexander, whose impressive credits include directing performers like Barbara Streisand, Better Midler and Ricky Martin, took time from his current project -- the debut of a special concert by Bernadette Peters -- to help the kids prepare for their show premiering this weekend at the high school.

"I found the kids so refreshing and energizing," Jay-Alexander said. "I think it's great they bring them [to New York City.] That's the real thing, to come to NYC and work with the professionals."

Musical Director Beth Quakenbush arranges an annual trip for her students where they regularly meet with another Broadway director, Kevin Stites.

"Beth is amazing," said Jay-Alexander, acknowledging her ingenuity. "The kids are lucky to have her [and] I was totally taken with them."

This year's "In Achord Showcase" will feature songs from "The Lion King" and "Bye Bye Birdie." Two performances are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 6 and Saturday Nov. 7. Tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door.

"To say they're a choir is a misnomer," Jay-Alexander said. "They're almost misnamed. It's great that they're called In Achord because they seem to be limitless."

Jay-Alexander was referring to dance movements incorporated into the show. Along with Quakenbush, the group also works with choreographer Shannon Tompkins who is known to bring out the phenomenal talent of each student.

"There's a lot of movement in it, particularly, there's some pretty amazing stuff in 'Lion King.' Obviously, they can dance," he said. "I would tackle a musical with these kids in a New York minute."

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