Talent Machine Student production rates standing ovations

JAZZ ACCOMPANIMENT...Iberville Elementary School students prance in a creative dance performed to a new jazz ensemble’s, rendition of "Bad to the Bone." The jazz group is directed by Dr. Michael Berthelot, musical director at the Math, Science and Arts Academy. It was all part of the original play, “Pets,” that some 250 members of the Iberville Talent Machine performed last week. Executive Director of Special Projects Elvis J. Cavalier wrote and directed the play.

Barking, purring, growling and whining sounds filled the stages at two venues last week as 250 students from around the parish performed a two-act musical on pets and how they mimic and influence humans. 

The play, called "Pets," was a production of the Iberville Parish Public School System's Talent Machine, performed at the Math, Science and Arts Academy at E.J. Gay School and at the St. Gabriel Community Center.

The original play was written by Iberville Parish School System Executive Director of Special Projects, Elvis J. Cavalier, who also directed.

The play included nine scenes featuring dogs, cats, horses, foxes, fish, leopards, and other exotic animals. The colorful, creative costuming, along with high intensity lighting and special effects, helped to showcase the student talent onstage, while also demonstrating the skills of the production crew, said Cavalier. 

This is the third major performance of the growing student troupe, comprising public school students from all local public schools. The group now does a holiday performance, and a larger spring production.

"We place these students in all types of assignments related to performance, set arrangements, marketing, music, and support positions to enhance the learning experience and to enrich and encourage them to get multiple learning opportunities,” Cavalier said.

“This program is the highlight of our ongoing efforts," Superintendent Edward P. Cancienne said, "because the children are building self-esteem. They are having a terrific time, and they are growing in their development. I cannot praise the Talent Machine and the sacrifice of our staff and parents enough as they make allowances and sacrifices to get the students to practices, juggle their schedules, and give their support to the Talent Machine program."

A new Jazz Orchestra led by Dr. Michael Berthelot and a choir performed special original pieces between sets and during scenes. The group includes more than 50 students on orchestra instruments; all purchased last August for the new music program at the MSA Academy and the Talent Machine performances.

"The curtain call could barely hold the 250 student performers," said Cavalier, "and that's a great feeling as we end the 2008-2009 Talent Machine program year. Three sold out performances and three standing ovations are a great way to conclude our tour."

Cavalier said he has big plans for shows in the fall and spring.