Hinsdale native shares love of dance at StageDoor

There was a time when dance was nowhere near Tricia Fishbein's list of favorite activities. As a child, she said, she hated dance class.

"Sometimes you find your passions later in life," said Fishbein, who in high school performed in several musicals as part of the Hinsdale Central drama club and became captain of the school's poms team. By then, pom captain was just another line on her dance resume.

Fishbein started dancing on stage as part of StageDoor Fine Arts at age 11 when she played Beaky, one of the siblings of the ugly duckling in "Honk." Thirteen years later, at age 24, she's the choreographer for the theater's summer high school productions.

Each Saturday and Sunday throughout the spring, Fishbein spends her days in rehearsals with the cast. But her work on the summer show begins much earlier as she creates the dance routines the cast will perform in that summer's show.

This summer's high school musical production at StageDoor is "Mean Girls," a musical adaptation of the 2004 movie starring Lindsey Lohan as a high school student struggling to fit in as the new girl (see Page 22 for details). The musical only recently became available to local theaters, and Fishbein said StageDoor wanted to be among the first to bring it to the stage.

That meant some fast work for Fishbein, who had just a few weeks to prepare for auditions.

"I like to put a lot of effort and energy into an audition combo," she said.

Fishbein described "Mean Girls" as a high-energy show with a lot of dancing. Although she studied ballet along with various other styles of dance, Fishbein said her choreography leans toward jazz and hip hop. She's particularly excited about the show's biggest numbers, including "Where Do You Belong" and "Fearless." Both involve the full cast and some challenging choreography.

"Where Do You Belong" uses cafeteria tables on wheels as props, while "Fearless" is a true highlight of the production.

"They look amazing during that dance," Fishbein said.

Watching performers bring her work to life on stage is the ultimate reward for a choreographer, Fishbein said. But there are also rewards along the way, like when a dancer finally perfects a particularly tricky dance move. Fishbein said she likes to challenge every dancer to stretch their abilities.

"It's all about confidence," she said, and finally perfecting a difficult combination or element is a big confidence builder, she said.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Fishbein lives in Chicago and is a civil engineer working in solar energy. Although her career path has taken her far from the stage, she's found a way to make it part of her life.

"No door ever closes," said Fishbein, who admires StageDoor's commitment to excellence and how the theater closely mimics a professional theater experience for its performers.

"That's part of why it's such an honor to be asked by them to do this," she said.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean