Buffalo Grove HS student earns role in state’s all-star theater production
Buffalo Grove High School senior Joe Cavaiani practices with the school's Expressions show choir Jan. 3. Cavaiani is involved in an all-state high school theater play. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:06AM
BUFFALO GROVE — At last, Joe Cavaiani has a small role.
“I’m not a lead, and I love it,” he said.
Cavaiani, a Buffalo Grove High School senior and president of the school’s highly regarded Expressions show choir, also is a theater actor. This weekend, he will take part in probably the biggest production of his young career.
The Arlington Heights resident will be on stage Jan. 10-12 at the University of Illinois, playing a small role in the all-state musical, “Memphis.”
“Everybody there is super, super talented,” Cavaiani said. “The chemistry there is just great. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.”
The experience is taking part in the Illinois High School Theatre Festival’s all-star production. The annual gathering of high school theater teachers and students also includes an array of classes and workshops, but the highlight is the all-state play. The play brings together top talent from around Illinois into one cast, one crew and one orchestra. Several weekends of rehearsals for the group culminates in a one-weekend run in Champaign-Urbana.
Deborah Utley, who has directed Cavaiani with the Expressions and in the BGHS musical productions, said she had no doubt he belonged in the “Memphis” cast.
“It’s a new thing for us,” she said, noting that no Bison has ever earned a spot in the all-state play.
Utley added that it could have been difficult to share her Expressions student-leader with another group, but that Cavaiani has learned to successfully balance his schedule.
“He’s not just a body — when we’re missing him, we’re really missing something,” she said.
Cavaiani said his all-state experience began in June in Tinley Park, where he auditioned. The festival organizers posted the cast list online, and he found out that he had earned a part when a friend say his name and texted him.
Once-a-month rehearsals in Tinley Park and Homewood followed, and the group of strangers — each accustomed to being the star — had to come together, into parts large and small.
“I’m sure there’s animosity about it, for a week,” Cavaiani said. “That’s how real life is going to be when we go off to college and get in the professional world. It’s a good learning experience, to start feeling that.”
Cavaiani will work in the ensemble, and has one scene as the manager of a record store. The protagonist is one of his employees, and Cavaiani’s character fires him.
“I’m a bad guy,” he said.
Cavaiani hopes to play a variety of roles in the future, too. Undecided about college, his prospects include the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Ball State, Ithaca College in New York and more.
“I like being in front of an audience, I like the idea of becoming another person on stage,” he said. “It’s fun to not be yourself. Being yourself gets boring.”