Dirks finds place at Grand Opera House in ‘Les Miserables’

Posted August 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm

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PHOTO: A scene plays out on stage where Emily Dirks (far right) acts as a female chorus member at the Grand Opera House during their production of Les Miserables.  (Photo courtesy of the Dubuque Grand Opera House)


By Emily Burds, Express Intern

“Do you hear the people sing?”

Those who have become a part of the new following to the iconic story, Broadway show, and now movie “Les Miserables” can certainly finish that tune. And one of the people singing it and many of the show’s other well-known melodies this past month was MHS student Emily Dirks.

The soon-to-be-senior has spent the past few months as a part of the cast of Grand Opera House’s production of “Les Mis”, which held performances during the last weekend in July and the first weekend this month.

Dirks, an active choir, speech, and drama member at the high school, decided to branch out from the MHS auditorium and her stint on the Starlighters’ stage to the big lights of Dubuque’s historic Opera House.

“This show really works well for my voice,” she explained of why she decided to audition. “And it’s my second favorite musical ever, behind ‘Wicked’ of course.”

Already in love with the story and songs, Dirks headed off to a nerve-wracking audition where she spent time in front of four judges singing both prepared operatic and musical theatre pieces, reading script and demonstrating movement.

“This is a whole different caliber of show and production,” she explained. “I left thinking, ‘Even if I don’t get in, I guess that’s what the real world is like.’” It was clear Dirks’s voice and impressive resume paid off, as she soon discovered she was cast as a part of the female chorus.

Upon arriving at rehearsals, Dirks said she was really thrown into the real world of show business.

“It’s serious,” she said. “There are so many people taking their time to direct you and make the show as best as it can possibly be. It takes a lot of crew to make that happen.”

And a lot of long nights. With a demanding rehearsal schedule, Dirks has learned the art of time management through her countless late nights spent at the theatre and her driving time in between. With such a busy schedule, she said she is thankful to her family, friends, and teachers for keeping her grounded and for their constant support throughout the process.

However, Dirks is quick to explain how much fun she has had throughout her involvement in the show. Despite the immense talent surrounding her, she said that she has made many friends by being a part of the show, which she described as the best part of the process besides the performances.

“I got to walk out in character every night to 500 people watching the show. How incredible is that?”

Dirks said that her first experience at the Opera House will definitely have her coming back for more.

“They seem very professional and very serious about what they do I can’t believe the quality of auditioners that they get in Dubuque.”

As for why people should invest in the performing arts and get out to see a live show Dirks said, “Live theatre is an experience like no other. I can’t fathom why people don’t enjoy it.”

Her love of the theatre is what she plans on taking into college with her as she looks into musical theatre and vocal performance programs throughout the Midwest for her future.

As for when you’ll see her up on stage next, she says that she can guarantee you’ll see her acting talents on display this upcoming fall and spring on stage at the high school and possibly this winter back at the Grand Opera House as she gears up to audition for their production of the classic “A Christmas Carol”.

The Grand Opera House has some of the most amazing direction and productions that I have ever been a part of or seen,” Emily explained. “I would recommend a show at the Grand to anyone.” And the numbers don’t lie either as the audience numbers where totaled up this week. The final tally? 3,451. Now that’s something to sing about.