Year three for Jen’s top 50 and it hasn’t gotten any easier! Actually, it is continually harder for me to pick my favorite moments because the counties get stronger every year in the design aspects of the show! Lighting, Makeup, Costumes, Sets, Directing Teams and the Kids are pushing themselves to be more creative and to take chances to make magic happen. I am in awe of the talented people I get to work with every season and I can’t wait to see what 2016 holds! Thanks to everyone for your outstanding work and for allowing me to capture the magic! ~Jen
50) McHenry- Schoolhouse Rock–
Every time I see this image, I can’t help but laugh. The facials are priceless!
49) Orland Park- You’re a Good Man,Charlie Brown
Oh, Book Report…. Have you ever just dreaded writing a report in school? Cody Hannig’s expression says it all.
48) Lake- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
I just thought this scene was funny! Again, Book Report, BUT, the boys dancing the story Schroeder (Isaac Englehardt) was writing, were in Robin Hood last season, including Robin Hood himself, Royce Lloyd.
47) Kane- Thoroughly Modern Millie
This was a beautiful scene about dreaming of the future. Something that everyone does, but when Nathan and Kayla performed the scene, I got lost in the dream with them.
46) Aurora- Aladdin
Ben Rogers. Dude. You were funny! I loved the special effects in this scene. The flying added to the much magic and energy to the show!
45) NW Cook- Great American Tall Tales
Plant a Seed. It is quite possibly my favorite song from Great American Tall Tales, and the addition of 9 dancers “growing up” on stage, simply beautiful.
44) McHenry- Oklahoma
I LOVE this scene! The characters are so well written and these kids just killed it!
43) Orland Park- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Yeah…..I still want to be a Woodstock, but I don’t fit the costume…These kids had so much fun and were so energetic I just wanted to jump up there with them and join the party!
42) Kane- My Son Pinocchio
This was a VERY creative way to use lighting to create a backdrop for a scene. The whale scene is so difficult to do! I appreciated the way it was simply but effectively executed! Using just lighting, made the focus be on the actors, not the set.
41) Rockford- Mary Poppins
I really enjoyed Step in Time! The sweeps were spot on in their movement and the addition of flying added another level!
40) Aurora- Tarzan
39) Oak Park- Hairspray
Girl….Take me to Church! Harmony Palmore was amazing in this role and had the entire audience on their feet by the end of “I Know Where I’ve Been” at every single performance.
38) Aurora- Seussical
The chemistry between Mayzie and Gertrude was great! Payten and Sophie were totally in sync and played off each others’ characters wonderfully!
37) NW Cook- Les Miserables
Jason, this role took you to a new level. There was depth, I could easily see your character’s growth throughout the show, and you made my heart hurt for you in this scene. Well done, Sir.
36) Lake- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
One of my favorite roles is Sally in Charlie Brown. Abby Hough, you had more energy that I have ever seen one kid have on stage! You were totally “the little sister who has something to say about everything” and your facials were spot on!
35) DuPage- Shrek AND Kane- Shrek
One of the things I LOVE about being able to shoot all the shows is getting to see the same show multiple times. Different directors have different visions and use what they have to create a new element to the shows. This is the same song, but staged differently. Both Bethany (Newell) Miller and Rachel Iler created some amazing movement to tell the story and I loved watching it every time!
34) McHenry- Into the Woods Jr.
I loved the staging in this opening scene. With the narrator in the foreground the focus easily went from him, to the characters he was speaking about with a simple change of light.
33) NW Cook- Great American Tall Tales
My second favorite song from this show. I’m a sucker for a group of men singing a beautiful song. I also really liked the lighting and the use of the light up hammers as a special effect.
32) Lake- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
I have shot Charlie Brown several times in different counties, and this is the first time the blanket dance was done with the kids AS the blankets. It was really creative and fun to watch!
31) Aurora- Tarzan
The lighting. MAN! The special effects! GAH!!!
30) McHenry- Into the Woods Jr.
Again, I loved the staging in this show. And Hannah’s expressions as Cinderella were so good!
29) DuPage- High School Musical
Haven’t we all had this issue? Do we change who we are to please others, or stay true to ourselves and be the person God made us to be? It’s a constant struggle for me which is why I loved this moment between father and son.
28) Aurora- Seussical
Keith Mankowski as Horton and Sophie Hauser as Gertrude had such great chemistry. Maybe I’m a sucker for the background/foreground blur but I loved how the Mr. and Mrs. Mayor were highlighted so you could see them when they were talking to Horton.
27) Rockford- Mary Poppins
I LOVE a good silhouette and these are very iconic moments created by the directing team and lighting designers.
26) Aurora- Aladdin
I really liked the use of 5 narrators in this production of Aladdin. Their voices blended beautifully and it created a new element in the show. This shot was cool because the use of the scrim in the prologue helped to show the city of Agrabah yet the focus was on the vocalists. Nice job!
25) Kane- Thoroughly Modern Millie
Hair, Makeup, Costmes, Sets, Lighting, Actors…..It’s all there. LOVED watching this scene!
24) Lake- You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Ellory and Aviya were so funny as 3 and 4! Their facial expressions were so funny and whenever they came on stage, I couldn’t help but watch to see what they were going to do next. Great job being in character ladies!
23) NW Cook- Les Miserables
Such a strong moment. This one frame showed the obstacles that Eponine had to cross…first she had to get through the barricade, then she had to make her way through the students, and finally she finished her journey in the arms of the one she loved. So sad…. And well executed by Danielle Klein, Jason Schmidt, Marcus Canada and the rest of the Students.
22) Rockford- Fiddler on the Roof
LOVED this moment! The Fiddler playing while Tevye discusses “Tradition” with the audience. The coolest part is they’re real life siblings!
21) Aurora- Tarzan
The use of a fish net for a spider web and flying the spider was very effective! The stage picture created in this scene was beautiful and Jane’s (Rylie Orphan) reaction to seeing Tarzan (Gab Harder) for the first time is priceless.
20) McHenry- Oklahoma
Jud. Man what a great character! Aidan McCarthy’s portrayal of Jud Fry was engaging and creepy at the same time. He did a great job with “Lonely Room.”
19) Kane- Thoroughly Modern Millie
Mrs. Meers’ crew was hilarious!
18) Oak Park- Hairspray AND Lake – Hairspray
Lil Inez is such a sassy role and Brooke Toliver and Claire Hough were spectacular! Those girls have some pipes!
17) NW Cook- Godspell
Spotlight is such a wonderful place for siblings to do something together. In this scene, Steven Moerschel had his moment to shine while big brother Joe looked on. Brings a tear to my eyes to see how supportive siblings are of each other and this image captures that. I love what Spotlight can be for kids.
16) Aurora- Aladdin
No this is not a trick image, nor is it a composite. I just happened to be at the right angle at the right time to capture this moment of the snake charmers. Awesome stage picture created by the directors!
15) Oak Park- Annie
When Annie (Ellie Kate Loftus) talks about her locket with Mr. Warbuck (Caden Marshall), we start to see that “if you love them, let them go” saying come to life. Caden and Ellie Kate did a nice job at connecting to the emotion of the scene.
14) Lake- Camp Rock
This scene was such a wonderful stage picture! I loved that within the choreography, the audience could see the personalities of the different camps in the movement and this final pose was spot on.
13) NW Cook- Les Miserables
I just wanted to join in with Enjolras (Marcus Canada). So captivating and perfect flag placement!
12) Kane- Shrek
I have photographed Shrek four counties, and seen the show 16ish times. I really enjoyed the addition of the extra dancers to create more chaos during the rescue of Princess Fiona. It helps to add depth to the scene.
11) NW Cook- Godspell
I was blown away by the emotion that each kid on stage put into his or her character during Cook’s Godspell. In this moment, Megan Giromini was brought to tears and the prayer in her expression, was so tender and sweet.
10) Orland Park- Tom Sawyer
This was a great moment all together. Lighting, Staging, sets…all came together beautifully.
9) DuPage- Frog and Toad
8) Rockford- Fiddler on the Roof
As a mom, this moment hit my heart closer this time. Tevye’s memories of his baby growing up brought me to tears.
7) NW Cook- Les Miserables
This moment of foreshadowing was a great choice by the directors and well executed by the lighting designer. Very touching and emotional.
6) McHenry- Into the Woods
Payten Romig and Emme Jones were wonderfully paired in this “Mother/daughter” stage duo. They connected and played off of each other like pros.
5) Aurora- Tarzan
The character development in Tarzan (Gab Harder) and Jane (Rylie Orphan) was beautiful to watch. Each trying to fit in to one anothers worlds, but realizing that they just need to be themselves to be happy created an interesting dynamic and powerful message for the audience.
4) NW Cook- Les Miserables
I had to do a series of images here to get the whole picture because it was too funny to leave out! I don’t think it needs a caption. Jon Mickel as Thenardier and Cuyler Marshall as Javert.
3) DuPage- High School Musical
2) Rockford- Sound of Music
Edelweiss has a special place in my heart. My Grandma use to sing it to me when I was upset, and now I sing it (although not as good as the kids can), to my son. Noah did a beautiful job with this song and it touched my heart every time I heard him sing it.
1) Orland Park- Tom Sawyer
This is the final point of Orland Park’s Tom Sawyer taken at the end of the closing show. I think it shows, that no matter what, give the glory to God always, even when facing uncertainty of the future. Way to go Orland Park! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for your county and for each of you.