Back in high school, Jen Cupani played clarinet in Stevenson’s marching band and was a member of its dance program — and her love of the performing arts only grew from there.
Just last month, Cupani was named interim artistic director at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. Having been involved with the theater for the last 10 years, as a director and choreographer, she hit the ground running. In fact, this weekend she will celebrate the opening of Cabaret, her first production since she assumed her new role.
In her role as artistic director, Cupani works with Metropolis Executive Director Brookes Ebetsch, handling everything from the management of title selections and stage productions, to working directly with directors, designers and actors.
Still, SuburbTalk decided to dig a little deeper into her community roots, to hear how she went from choreographing high school musicals to working with professional actors. Turns out, her local experience counts.
“I was taking ballet, tap and jazz classes at a dance studio almost every day after school and on weekends,” Cupani says. “My first love was ballet, but I was also obsessed with musicals. I thought they were magical.”
She still does. Cupani choreographed her first high school musical in 2001 at Saint Viator High School, and since then she also has choreographed shows at New Trier and Stevenson high schools. She describes the rehearsals as high energy, working with dual casts — and lots of kids, as she says.
“I think my favorite high school show was the first one I ever did, West Side Story,” Cupani says. “It just connected so many dots for me: dance, acting and music.”
Cupani’s experience at Metropolis started when she was asked to direct one of its teen summer camp shows, the Wizard of Oz. She continued to direct and choreograph several camp programs, while working as a dance teacher for Metropolis’ School of the Performing Arts and work in its educational outreach programs. Five years ago, Cupani moved to the main stage, as a choreographer and director, and she has been involved in every season since then.
“Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to choreograph or direct Cabaret,” she says, “but I am so grateful for the opportunity to help bring it to the stage at the Metropolis!”
Cabaret opens Thursday at Metropolis and runs through Oct. 22. For tickets, visit www.metropolisarts.com, or call the box office, at 847-577-2121