Careers in the spotlight

Burbank High School show choir students gained hands-on experience putting on the annual Pop Show this weekend. Not only did students perform, but they worked on the technical aspects of the show — lighting and sound.

During a rehearsal Tuesday, a few of the students talked about how the experience might help them with their career choice after graduation.

Ellen Marlow, 17, a junior in the InSync choir, had just finished a fast-paced group set with the Dance Ensemble performing to a medley of songs.

“It’s been so much fun,” she said. “Pop Show is what we wait the entire year for.”

She admitted rehearsals can be stressful.

“But in the end, we know it’s going to be worth it,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s a team effort.”

Originally from Austin, Texas, she auditioned and landed a role in a Broadway musical in New York before coming to Burbank five years ago.

“My ultimate dream is to perform in Broadway musicals,” she said.

For Mitchell Hollis, 18, a senior, Pop Show is the end of a very long journey.

“There are really good moments and fairly bad moments, but because it’s coming to an end, I’m going to miss the experiences, and I feel like the lessons I’ve learned will stay with me,” he said.

His career goal is to become a psychiatrist.

“I think my experience in choir will help in understanding emotions and how people react to performing,” he said.

The Pop Show is typically an eclectic mix of Broadway and pop music, said director Brett Carroll.

Ninety acts auditioned for the 12 spots available in the show “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” so to allow more students to participate, several acts were incorporated into the pre-show in the quad where the audience could watch while eating barbecued brisket sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs and fresh-baked strawberry pie.

“It allows more of them to show what they can do,” Carroll said.

In addition to performing, students also learn about stage lighting and sound from professionals.

“Students work beside professionals from Hollywood Sound and PRG Resource, which provides the lighting for all the big awards shows,” he said. “The kids get to work with the best professionals in the industry. Then they teach the younger kids to do it.”

Emmanuel Hartounian, 17, is in the performance groups Out of the Blue and Sound Dogs. Over the three years he’s been at Burbank High School, he has performed in several shows and worked on the technical side.

“I handle props and help performers with costume changes that can be really fast,” he said. “The longest costume change is 40 seconds, and the shortest is 20 seconds.”

He also sets up the microphones and the 15- to 18-foot-high lighting columns.

“It’s scary,” he said. “The professionals tell us how to do it correctly.”

Working with professionals has expanded his goals, Hartounian said.

“It’s given me more options for a career, and we learn more stuff about lighting,” he said. “If you want to go into that field, it helps also.”

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