Better than ever: Starlight Theater welcomes full cast, director of color

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - When he first learned he would be directing Rock Valley College Starlight Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls, Mychall Cornejo felt a mix of shock, excitement and fear.

Mychall Cornejo, a man of Filipino descent, makes history as Starlight Theater’s first director of color. Cornejo started at the theater as a dancer, before moving to Chicago to learn choreography. He’s now making a come back, this time in the director’s chair.

“Dreamgirls” is running until the end of July. The show first started on Broadway four years ago, and depicts the life of rising Motown artists in the1960′s and 70′s. Cornejo tells 23 News he felt a mix of excitement and fear taking on the job of Director. For Cornejo, he think this is an opportunity to show people in the industry that representation matters, and this show about Motown music gives him the chance to do just that.

“That’s why the representation mattered, on stage specifically, because this show is about a black performing group, and their music gets taken away and so they try to figure their way out through the world, the way the culture is at that time during the 60′s and 70′s,” he said.

The musical focuses on a small, Black record label and how its artists crossed over to the pop charts. It also covers the often complex relationships between the fictional characters involved in this movement.

Starlight’s intentional and thoughtful approach to diversity, equity and inclusion hope to welcome new performers and audience members to the theatre.

“We know we have the talent in the area, and we want to make sure everyone understands that Starlight Theatre is actively trying to encourage people of color to audition for and attend all the shows,” he said.

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