Winter Musical: "Ace"
York Drama Proudly Presents "Ace"
After two years, live theatre returns to Baker Auditorium for York Drama’s newest musical adventure, “Ace”
York Drama is thrilled to welcome the Elmhurst community back to the Baker Auditorium for its first live and on-stage musical in over two years. This season, York has been given the rare opportunity to be the high school pilot of “Ace,” a new musical adventure nearly two decades in the making.
“We are elated to be premiering ‘Ace,’ and the process of digging into this stunning script and score as a cast has been indescribable; the joy of creating is truly back.” York Drama Director Rebecca Marianetti said. “We are so excited to share this deeply moving and hopeful story with our audience. Musical theatre is an art form like no other, and ‘Ace’ is a treasure of a musical.”
From the composing duo that brought “Bandstand” to Broadway, “Ace” journeys through the lives of three generations of one family, and takes us from World War I, to World War II, and into the 1960s. As a boy loses his mother and tries to make sense of it all, he unexpectedly meets a family member who will change his life forever.
“What is truly remarkable about this story is how easily everyone can find themselves in it, in one character or another, one moment or another,” York Drama Director Matt Bourke said. “Over the last 22 months, it has become increasingly easy to focus on ourselves in hopes of finding clarity. ‘Ace’ reminds us it is through others, and only through others, that we can gain a new perspective or insight on what we thought we already knew.”
Immediately, Marianetti and Bourke felt a resonance toward the musical; however, the process of achieving permission to perform “Ace” was a journey within itself. Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, currently composing the Broadway-bound musical, “Bruce” (the story of the making of Steven Spielberg’s, “Jaws”), wrote “Ace” in 2006, and have reconceptualized the piece to become the musical they always dreamed.
“A close friend of mine was in the original cast of ‘Ace,’ and has always raved about the score,” Marianetti said. “Through her connection to the production and the generosity and open mindedness of the composers, we were able to reach out and talk extensively with them about the show, and about what we believed our students could bring to the story, as the musical has never been performed at the high school level.”
In addition to producing Ace, York students had the opportunity to learn from Oberacker and Taylor in a two-day master class and concert performance in January. During the experience, students were able to gain hands-on experience from two of the largest names in Broadway.
“It feels surreal to not only meet the people who poured so much of themselves into the show we are performing, but composers who are truly masters of their craft,” Leo Macariola, York senior who plays the titular role in “Ace,” said. “I hope to study composition in college, so I feel incredibly blessed to be part of a program that allows me to work one-on-one with industry professionals.”
In addition to students learning the various machinations of composition and storytelling, York Drama has engaged in extensive study and review of military and American history in preparation for this musical. The production team includes three dramaturgs, the leaders responsible for providing historical context and perspective informed by detailed research.
"As the dramaturg for ‘Ace,’ I've done extensive research into the historical aspects of the story; everything from the history of the Air Force as a branch of the military to popular hairstyles of the 1940s,” Janine Ruszkowski, York junior, said. “It's an incredibly rewarding job, because I get to learn so many new facts and help flesh this show out into something real. I've always had a passion for history so getting to use my skills and my passion to bring ‘Ace’ to life for the first time is such an honor.”
Supported by a large crew of student leaders, the cast of “Ace” feels prepared and focused to present this one-of-a-kind theatrical masterpiece with their community. Freshmen through seniors have been able to engage in the process from start to finish.
“The greatest gift this year is that we were able to come back together and create something beautiful, Paige Greve, York junior who plays Elizabeth, said. “‘Ace’ has been such a huge learning experience for me; it is about life, death, and the amount of time we have with those around us. We have had conversations that I will take with me not only in theater, but in my everyday life.”
“Ace” will be presented Feb. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. in the York High School Baker Auditorium. Tickets go on sale to the public Jan. 20, and will be sold for $15 at www.yorkdrama.org.
After taking a deep breath, Greve reflected, “‘Ace is the perfect show for our return to the stage: we can finally fly again.”