Holiday inn

Brookfield teenager makes Drury Lane debut in ‘Holiday Inn’

Lily kocourek

In early 2020, Brookfield resident Lily Kocourek looked forward to a fun year ahead – eighth grade graduation, entering high school, and fulfilling a lifelong dream of tap dancing on stage in a professional theatrical production.

But a global pandemic ended that dream, leaving Kocourek wondering if she would just be able to achieve her goal of dancing professionally.

Fast forward 21 months.

Now 15 and a sophomore at Riverside-Brookfield High School, Kocourek is set for her stage debut later this month, starring Charlie Winslow in the Drury Lane Theater production of “Holiday Inn.”

Based on the classic 1942 film, “Holiday Inn” follows the efforts of a retired singer and dancer to bring entertainment to his small Connecticut town. With the help of a talented teacher, he is able to turn his farm into an inn and put on spectacular shows celebrating every holiday.

“Holiday Inn” is a family-friendly musical, featuring upbeat dance numbers, laughing comedy and a host of hit songs from famous songwriter and lyricist Irving Berlin, including Oscar-winning “White Christmas” .

Kocourek, who has been patting since the age of 4 at Jo’s Footwork Studio in Western Springs under the direction of famous tap master Jay Fagan, was initially recommended to audition for the show in February 2020 by Fagan, who told him that Drury Lane was specifically looking to cast a teenage girl with experience in tap dancing for the role of Charlie Winslow.

Luckily for Kocourek, three days after auditioning for the role, she found she had succeeded. However, the pandemic quickly shut down the entertainment industry and Drury Lane postponed production.

This fall, Drury Lane returned to action, with rehearsals for “Holiday Inn” resuming in October. The show is scheduled to run from November 19 to January 9 at the Oakbrook Terrace Theater.

For Kocourek, returning to performing arts means realizing his goal of starting a life of performance on the big stage.

“It was very exciting,” she said of the rehearsals. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and I’m so happy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to show people my tap dancing skills, learn to play on stage and sing the few lines I have.

In his role as Charlie Winslow, Kocourek is scheduled for the big tap duo number (the famous “Firecracker” dance) with the character of Ted Hanover (played in the Fred Astaire film).

“Charlie is very naive,” Kocourek said of his character. “She’s younger, but she’s a hard worker and she’s very sarcastic.”

For rehearsals, Kocourek says it was fun learning the ins and outs of live theater while performing cues and dance scenes with her fellow actors, including the other actress who plays Charlie Winslow for the half of the performance dates.

Outside of Drury Lane, Kocourek stays busy with both dancing and other extracurricular activities. Along with tap dancing, she studied ballet, lyric dance, and jazz, and recently participated in festivals in downtown Chicago, Michigan, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. And, she also stays busy at RBHS, participating with the Orchesis Dance Team, the Repertory Dance Ensemble and the Poms Team, and being a part of the Cross Country and Track teams.

So what is it about the dancing that has kept Kocourek involved for all these years?

“I think being able to dance with all my teachers keeps me going, and experiencing traveling and dancing with different teachers and choreographers is one of the main reasons I love dancing so much,” he said. she declared.

After “Holiday Inn,” Kocourek says she hopes to perform in other professional productions in the area and that in the future she hopes to perform as a tap dancer on Broadway in New York and at the foreigner.

Her advice for local teens who want to pursue their dream of working in the arts is simple: pursue your passion to the max.

“Work hard in everything you do and keep looking for opportunities, because there will always be things that are available and things that you can participate in,” she said. “Do things you love and what makes you happy. “

For more information on Drury Lane Theater and “Holiday Inn”, including purchasing tickets, visit the Drury Lane website.

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